Stomach Bug C. diff Causing More Illness… and Death

A new strain a common stomach bug is becoming more widespread in the U.S…. and is becoming more deadly as well. Clostridium difficile, commonly called C. diff, is making more people sick all over the United States, and an article on WebMD notes that the mortality rate has double among those who come down with the illness.

Diagnosed cases of C. diff in American adults more than doubled from 2000 to 2005, a new study reports. And another group of researchers warned last year that the rate of death from C. diff had been jumping by 35% per year. This has scientists calling C. diff the latest “superbug,” and even using the “e” word —epidemic —when discussing C. diff.

C. diff is one of those bacteria that live in the gastrointestinal tract of many people, and does so without causing any harm. (It also is widespread all around us… in the air, soil, etc.) Like other bacteria, though, it can cause problems with certain harmful strains develop, or when sickness or other reason causes the usually harmless bacteria to grow unchecked and become too prevalent.

As the WebMD article notes, C. diff can still be killed with existing antibiotics… though the dangerous new strain is less susceptible to them. What’s more, patients who get sick from C. diff may become ill from it a second time, and sometimes more.

You can learn more about C. diff signs and symptoms, causes, and treatment in this article from the Mayo Clinic. C. diff symptoms can include diarrhea, dehydration, and abdominal pain.

The study reporting the increased incidence of C. diff appeared in the June 2008 edition of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

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