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Clostridium difficile, also called CD, is a bacterium that develops in the digestive flora. Taking certain antibiotics can cause the bacteria to grow. What are the symptoms ? How to make the diagnosis?

Clostridium difficile (CD) means a bacterium that is part of digestive flora of most individuals. When taking antibiotics, causing a disturbance of the intestinal flora, CD then finds favorable ground in some people to develop easily. The disease is particularly contagious. How spreads Clostridium difficile? What are the symptoms ? Info and advice to avoid the transmission.

Definition: what is Clostridium difficile bacteria?

Clostridium difficile East a bacterium found in a large majority of people and forming part of the digestive flora. “It is often present in the digestive tract, but its pathogenicity is suppressed by the normal microbiota“, explains Professor Benoit Coffin, Gastroenterologist at Louis Mourier Hospital. When taking antibiotics, causing a disturbance of the intestinal flora, CD then finds favorable ground in some people to develop easily. “The bacterium then expresses its pathogenic power, and can lead to very serious complications“, specifies Professor Coffin.

This disease is extremely contagious because the CD is eliminated in the stool in the form of spores, easily transmitted from one patient to another, either in the air or by direct contact, or by interposed object“, details Professor Coffin. This is how epidemics break out.”They are becoming more and more frequent due to the increased use of antibiotics, and more and more severe strains are emerging. Fortunately France is relatively spared“, notes the practitioner.

What are the symptoms of Clostridium difficile?

THE Clostridium difficile causes:

  • diarrhea usually accompanied by fever and abdominal pain looking like cramps.
  • The presence of blood in stool can also be observed.
  • May occur then, but more rarely, complications such as dehydration or severe inflammation of the coloncalled pseudo membranous colitis.

Which antibiotic causes Clostridium difficile?

Taking certain antibioticsas amoxicillin, clindamycin and cephalosporins, promote nosocomial infection. Indeed, antibiotics unbalance the intestinal flora and allow the bacteria to multiply.

Who is at risk for Clostridium difficile?

Immunocompromised people as well as people over the age of 65 staying in hospitals or in retirement homes can be more easily infected by this bacterium because of its highly contagious nature.

Diagnosis of Clostridium difficile is made by a stool examination to highlight the toxins produced by Clostridium difficile. “If the bacteria is present, it is not necessarily serious. It is the toxin of the bacteria which has the pathogenic power“, specifies Professor Coffin.

When to consult for Clostridium difficile?

“Any diarrhea that does not yield after taking and then stopping antibiotics, as well as blood in the stool should lead to prompt consultation“, warns Professor Coffin.

What is the treatment for Clostridium difficile?

► No drug treatment is only prescribed when the manifestations are mild. Indeed, the manifestations disappear when the patient stops taking the antibiotics involved in this nosocomial infection. “When the symptoms are more severe, in first intention, specific antibiotics are prescribed“, explains Professor Coffin.

Most patients recover, but some may reoffend. After the second recurrence (third occurrence), one is allowed to perform a fecal transplant. It is a very effective method against CD infection, as 90% of patients recover. This procedure can only be performed by doctors. And it’s the only everyday clinical situation where she’s allowed.“, details the gastroenterologist.

To avoid transmission, the infected person is placed in a room alone. Staff and visitors should wear gloves and gowns with long sleeves. The environment must be disinfected daily. These measures must be observed at least 72 hours after the diarrhea has stopped. The hygiene of the patient’s hands, of the family and of course of the personnel of the establishment, will be particularly rigorous, especially after having gone to the toilets. A thorough wash followed by an application of a hydro-alcoholic product is essential.

Thanks to Pr Benoit Coffin, Gastroenterologist at the Louis Mourier hospital (Colombes).

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