C. difficile

The following information is for patients, staff, physicians, volunteers, visitors, and general public:

What is C. difficile?

C. difficile is one of many types of bacteria that can be found in feces (bowel movement) and has been a known cause of health care-associated diarrhea for about 30 years.

Where does C. difficile come from?

C. difficile is not new. Although people may associate it with health care settings, it doesn’t come from hospitals, long tern care homes, or laboratories. It is widely distributed in the environment and can be found in the human intestine, occurring naturally in 3-5% of adults (more commonly in the elderly) without causing symptoms.

What causes C. difficile?

C. difficile can be picked up on the hands from exposure in the environment and can get into the stomach once the mouth is touched, or if food is handled and then swallowed. Once in the stomach, the bacteria usually will not cause any problems unless the other bowel bacteria are disturbed, which can happen when antibiotics are taken. The use of antibiotics increases the chances of developing C. difficile diarrhea as it alters the normal level of good bacteria found in the intestines and colon. Without the presence of the normal bowel bacteria the C. difficile bacteria may start to grow and produce a toxin that can damage the bowel and can lead to watery diarrhea, fever and abdominal pain and tenderness.

How is C. difficile spread?

When a person has C. difficile , the bacteria in their feces can contaminate surfaces such as toilets, bedpans, commode chairs, and door handles (if feces is on their hands). Other healthy individuals can contaminate their hands if they touch these items.  If these individuals then touch their mouths without washing their hands, they can become infected. C. difficile produces spores that survive for long periods and are resistant to destruction by many environmental cleaners (e.g. temperature and humidity).

Hand Hygiene: everyone’s responsibility

Good hand washing by everyone, health care workers, physicians, volunteers, patients, and visitors, is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

HHHS Commitment

All staff and the Infection Control Dep't of HHHS is committed to the safety of our patients. Good Hand Hygiene practices are an essential part of our day to day routine, and we look for continuous improvement in this endeavour.

Clostridium Difficile  (C. difficile):

Statistics of C. difficile at the Haliburton Highlands Health Services:

Counts between 1 - 4 will be posted as < 5, as specified by the MOHLTC reporting guidelines.

C.difficile rate at HHHS is 1/1000 patient days.


 

 
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