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C-Diff: Could a vaccine prevent this contagious killer?
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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Clostridium difficile (C-diff) is a bacterial infection that causes abdominal pain, fever and diarrhea. The symptoms may range from mild to severe and can lead to death. C-diff is the leading cause of gastroenteritis-associated death and was estimated to cause 14,000 deaths in 2007 in the United States according to the New England Journal of Medicine.

C-diff is highly contagious and can live on surfaces for up to 90 days. Only cleaners with chlorine bleach are effective in reducing the risk of contamination from C-diff infected surfaces. This bacterial infection seems to be more prevalent in females than males, higher among whites than nonwhites and there is a higher incidence in persons >65 years and older.

This same study in the New England Journal of Medicine noted health care associated C-diff infections more prevalent than community associated C-diff infections and it was estimated that 453,000 cases of C-diff occurred in 2011 in the United States. This study also concluded health care associated C-diff infections continue to be an ongoing issue with reoccurrence and death more common among health-care associated infections than community associated infections. However, most patients with C-diff had inpatient or outpatient health care exposure before onset of the infection. According to this study, the estimated death total from C-diff nationally in 2011 was 29,000 with the majority among patients with health care associated infections.

There are no cures for C-diff and treatment can include antibiotic therapy which may worsen the C-diff or as a last resort fecal transplant or surgery. Continued research needs to be done to find vaccinations and better treatment options for C-diff. Sterling Research is currently conducting a study to test a vaccination for this contagious bacterial infection. If you would like to learn more, please call our office and speak to a recruitment coordinator.

References: Lessa, F.C., Mu, Y., Bamberg, W.M., Beldavs, Z. G., Dumyati, G.K., Dunn, J.R., Farley, M.M., Holzbauer, S.M., Meek, J.I., Phipps, E.C., Wilson, L.E., Winston, L.G., Cohen, J.A., Limbago, B.M., Fridkin, S.K., Gerding, D.N., McDonald, L.C., The New England Journal of Medicine (February 26, 2015), Burden of Clostridium difficile Infection in the United States, 372;9
DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1408913


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