Here’s why the epidemic strain of C. difficile is so deadly — and a way to stop it

As a nurse, this particular disorder is perplexing and frustrating.  There is no way to know who will get this disease, but it will be someone who is in the hospital.  Once a patient on the floor has C. diff, there is a race to clean and isolate the offending unit.  Nurses will be wearing yellow gowns, face masks, and gloves to go into that room and will quickly toss these items into biohazard bags upon leaving the room.

The other frustrating thing is that there is no way to know if your patient will respond to antibiotics or not.  Some patients do, while others do not and then the disease becomes life threatening.  You worry about each infected patient; you worry about all the uninfected patients on your floor.

This article, from Science Daily, gives healthcare workers a small particle of hope that this disease can be stopped and that treatment will be effective.  Please read the entire article and learn what this discovery may mean to your future patients.


Here’s why the epidemic strain of C. difficile is so deadly — and a way to stop it

Answers about infection CDC has labeled ‘urgent threat’

Science News

Date:August 1, 2016

Source:University of Virginia Health System

A new, epidemic strain of C. difficile is proving alarmingly deadly, and new research from the University of Virginia School of Medicine not only explains why but also suggests a way to stop it.

Until now, scientists have not understood what made this strain worse than other strains of the bacteria, the most common cause of hospital-acquired infections. The new strain kills up to 15 percent of infected patients, including those who receive antibiotics, and has become increasingly common over the last 15 years. This has prompted the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to label it an “urgent threat.”

A Potent Toxin

The finding comes from the lab of Bill Petri, MD, PhD, chief of UVA’s Division of Infectious Diseases and International Health, and a team of international collaborators. PhD student Carrie A. Cowardin was working in Petri’s lab when she discovered the diabolical mechanisms this strain of C. diff uses to overcome the body’s natural defenses.

The strain is so deadly because it produces a toxin that kills protective cells, called eosinophils, found in the gut, Cowardin found. By destroying the gut’s natural barrier, the bacteria can spread inflammation throughout the body. “We think that this toxin makes disease more severe by killing beneficial eosinophils, which seem to play an important role in promoting a healthy immune response during C. difficile infection. When the eosinophils were depleted with an antibody or by the toxin, we saw dramatically increased inflammation. Restoring eosinophils by transferring…(read article here)

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