Clostridium difficile

Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) is a common bacterium that is found in the environment and occurs naturally in some people. Although usually associated with health care facilities, it actually doesn't originate from hospitals. However, the bacterium is more frequent in the stool of some hospitalized adults who do not have diarrhea or inflammation of the bowel.

When C. difficile damages the bowel and causes diarrhea, it is known as Clostridium difficile infection (CDI). CDI sometimes occurs when antibiotics are prescribed. Antibiotics work by killing off bacteria – both “bad” and “good” bacteria. When “good” bacteria are killed, C.difficile can grow and release toxins that can damage the bowel and may cause diarrhea.

The possibility of acquiring a health care-associated infection is a reality. Outbreaks are common globally. However, Ontario health care facilities are working hard to reduce the risk factors that contribute to the spread of infections. They are focusing on minimizing infections and keeping patients safe.

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