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Scientists Close to Conquering Deadly C. Diff Hospital Infection

Scientists Close to Conquering Deadly C. Diff Hospital Infection
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In recent years, healthcare-associated infections—illnesses you acquire during a stay in a hospital or long-term care facility—have reached epidemic proportions. One of the most widespread and potentially serious of these illnesses is caused by the bacterium Clostridium difficile, often simply called C. diff, which can be problematic to control…until now. Scientists have found a mechanism to protect the body from C. diff invading healthy cells.

C. diff infections can usually be controlled with antibiotics, but aggressive strains of C. diff have emerged that not only resist treatment with common medications but work against other colon bacteria and produce far more deadly toxins than ordinary strains do. The result: Patients take those antibiotics + competing bacteria die off = C. diff explodes.

Dr. L. Clifford McDonald, a CDC expert has said, “The nature of this infection is changing; it’s more severe.”

A multi-national group of scientists working on the problem has found a way to stop the toxins from entering the protective membrane surrounding the cell. C. diff bacteria work by shrinking themselves to fit through the cell membrane. By essentially eliminating the shrinking process, researchers were able to keep the bacteria from entering the cell and doing harm.

"Along with its potential to provide a much-needed new approach to treating Clostridium difficile infection, the discovery could be applied to developing new treatments for other forms of diarrhea, as well as non-diarrheal diseases caused by bacteria," said lead author Prof Tor Savidge, from the University of Texas.

The number of people hospitalized with this intestinal superbug has been growing by more than 10,000 cases a year and is responsible for at least 5,000 deaths annually.

About C. diff infections – Page 2

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