The Clostridium difficile bacteria is quite common, especially in healthcare workers who are exposed to feces. However, they aren’t the only ones at risk of a Clostridium difficile infection that can cause severe health problems, including a risk of death. But what is this bacteria, how do you know it is causing a problem, and what can be done about it? And just how important is a vaccine? Let’s take a look at Clostridium difficile, also known as C. Diff.
What is Clostridium Difficile
Many people already have Clostridium difficile bacteria in their intestines and don’t even realize it. Your gut has both good and bad bacteria, and it is the job of the good bacteria to keep the bad bacteria in check. However, taking a simple antibiotic can throw off the balance of good to bad, and the bad can win.
Symptoms of C. Diff
When Clostridium difficile starts becoming a problem, you may notice several symptoms:
- Weight Loss
- Rapid Heartrate
Some cases of C. Diff can resolve fairly quickly with treatment. However, there are risks of much more serious symptoms requiring emergency care. It even comes with a risk of death if you haven’t obtained treatment quickly.
Even for mild Clostridium difficile cases, quick treatment is required to keep it from worsening. To verify that your symptoms are, in fact, caused by C. Diff and not something else, your doctor will most likely order a series of tests requiring a stool sample. Both an enzyme immunoassay test and a polymerase chain reaction test are common.
Once you have confirmed Clostridium difficile causing the problem, you will most likely be prescribed an antibiotic that helps eliminate it. The two most common are metronidazole and vancomycin.
How a Vaccine Would Help
With a risk for both megacolon and bowel perforation, it is important to prevent as many cases of Clostridium difficile as possible, especially in those who are most susceptible like healthcare workers, the elderly and the very young. While prevention through regular sanitizing as well as hand washing can help reduce the risk, it is not foolproof. A vaccine developed to remove C. Diff from the colon is the only truly effective way to stop the bacteria from causing the risk of death.
DM Clinical Research is working on researching Clostridium difficile, preparing for clinical research of a C. Diff vaccine that can prevent a life-threatening infection. With an effective vaccine, even mild cases of Clostridium difficile can be prevented.