Dangerous diarrheal bacterium found on asymptomatic patients

Sep 21, 2007

The bacterium that causes a highly contagious and sometimes deadly form of diarrhea is frequently carried by persons who do not have any of the disease symptoms, according to a study in the Oct. 15 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases, now available online. These findings have dramatic implications for health care workers who have customarily treated and isolated only those patients who exhibit symptoms.

Clostridium difficile-associated disease (CDAD) is the most common health care-associated diarrheal disease in developed countries, with most infections occurring in hospitals, nursing homes, or other institutions. Generally, control measures have focused on placing patients with suspected or documented CDAD under contact precautions until the diarrhea resolved, then disinfecting their rooms. These infection control measures have been effective in reducing, but not eliminating, CDAD outbreaks.

This study offers reasons why those infection control efforts haven’t been more successful: the bacteria may be thriving on asymptomatic patients and items in their immediate vicinity such as call buttons, bed rails, bedside tables, and telephones. The researchers found that spores were easily transferred from the patient’s skin to investigators’ hands.

“Our findings suggest that asymptomatic carriers of epidemic and non-epidemic C. difficile strains could contribute significantly to transmission in long-term care facilities,” said senior author Curtis Donskey, MD, of the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center. “Simple modifications of current infection control practices, including glove use by health care workers and use of 10 percent bleach for room disinfection, could reduce the risk of transmission from asymptomatic carriers.”

Current guidelines recommend discontinuation of contact precautions for CDAD patients after diarrhea resolves. However, the authors found that nearly 25 percent of the asymptomatic carriers were patients who had previously had CDAD. Therefore, they propose extending the duration of contact precautions until the patient is discharged.

Source: Infectious Diseases Society of America

Explore further: UK dyslexia charities should give balanced view on expensive lenses to improve reading

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The ABC's of animal speech: Not so random after all

25 minutes ago

The calls of many animals, from whales to wolves, might contain more language-like structure than previously thought, according to study that raises new questions about the evolutionary origins of human language.

New type of solar concentrator desn't block the view

10 hours ago

(Phys.org) —A team of researchers at Michigan State University has developed a new type of solar concentrator that when placed over a window creates solar energy while allowing people to actually see through ...

Cities, states face off on municipal broadband

10 hours ago

Wilson, N.C., determined nearly a decade ago that high-speed Internet access would be essential to the community's social and economic health in the 21st century, just as electricity, water and sewers were in the previous ...

Recommended for you

New analysis questions use of acute hemodialysis treatment

1 hour ago

A common approach to treating kidney failure by removing waste products from the blood did not improve survival chances for people who suddenly developed the condition, in an analysis led by experts at the University of Pittsburgh ...

WHO: West Africa Ebola death toll rises to 1,350

2 hours ago

Security forces acting on the president's orders used scrap wood and barbed wire to seal off 50,000 people inside their crowded slum Wednesday in an attempt to contain the Ebola outbreak, which has killed ...

User comments : 0