How Does C diff Spread?
People who are most at risk of C diff infection include:
- People aged 65 or over
- People with a compromised immune system
- Those who are hospitalized and/or are being treated with a course of antibiotics
The following antibiotics are most likely to cause C diff:
- Broad spectrum Penicillins
The following antibiotics are occasionally associated with C diff:
Many people who get C. difficile pick it up in a hospital or nursing home. Usually, sufferers are also taking a course of antibiotics. Though a different form of antibiotics is given to treat an infection, it often recurs a second or third time. You can reduce your risk of infection or reinfection by using appropriate hygiene practices, modifying your diet, and taking a daily probiotic, to support a healthy GI tract and to strengthen your immune system.
C diff Precautions and Prevention
C diff is a surprisingly hardy bacteria. You cannot easily kill it with alcohol-based hand sanitizers, meaning that washing your hands with soap and water is often your best bet against contracting C diff. You should also follow hospital guidelines when visiting someone who has C diff. The C diff spores can easily cover all items and surfaces in a hospital room. Hospital guidelines usually require you to wear gloves and a disposable hospital gown. This is all designed to minimize your contact with C diff in a hospital environment.
If you are on antibiotics, even for a completely unrelated illness, you may be better off avoiding people with C diff until their infection has cleared up as you may be at a high risk of contracting the bacteria yourself. You may also want to avoid those with C diff if you:
- Have small children
- Are currently undergoing chemotherapy
- Have a compromised immune system
How to Prevent C diff from Spreading
If you’ve recently had C diff, make sure you wash your hands with soap and water when meeting others. If you spent most of your time with the infection at home, spend some time to clean and disinfect all areas of your home. Spores can live on objects and surfaces in your home for months. A solution of 10 parts water to 1 part bleach solution can help eliminate any remaining bacteria. Some places to start include:
- Your bathroom, including the toilet, sink, shower, and any handles or knobs
- All towels and bathmats
- All light switches
- Doorknobs throughout your home
- Your car steering wheel and gear shifter
With the right hygiene practices and supplementing your diet with probiotics and prebiotics, it’s relatively easy to keep C. difficile at bay. When you take antibiotics, be sure the take a high quality multi-probiotic along with it to help restore your normal gut flora.
Hygiene Precautions for C diff
It is not very common for people who are not taking a course of antibiotics to become infected with C. difficile, but it is still very important to avoid spreading the bacterial spores. You will continue to be infectious as long as you are still having diarrhea. Following these hygiene practices will help you avoid spreading C diff.
- Hand washing: It can’t be stressed enough that proper hand washing is your best line of defense against infections of all kinds. You should wash your hands each time you have used the bathroom and before meals. Wash hand properly by wetting them with water and using soap. Rub your hand together for about 30 seconds. Pay special attention to between the fingers and the fingernails. Alcohol-based hand rubs are not effective against C. difficile
- Contact Precautions: If you are hospitalized with C. difficile, you will most likely be placed on contact precautions. This means that anyone who enters your room must wash their hands before they enter and after they leave. Visitors must also cover their clothes with a gown and wear gloves. Back at home and work, person-to-person infection is rare but is still possible as the C. diff spores are very resilient. We recommend using bleach wipes to sanitize surfaces such as door knobs and toilet seats. After your illness has subsided, go through your home and take note of surfaces or objects that you may have come in contact with while you were sick. If you don’t have bleach wipes, diluting 1 part bleach to 10 parts water is an effective solution. Make sure you thoroughly wash your clothes and towels as well.