What Is C. Diff?

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By jolene
Reviewed
Reviewed: Dr. Gromatzky
May 16, 2020
Medical Expert Medical Expert

C. diff infection is an infection caused by the bacterium Clostridioides difficile. This bacteria spreads through bacterial spores that can be found in feces. Transmission occurs when the spores contaminate surfaces or through the hands of other individuals. This infection is responsible for the development of antibiotic-associated colitis and diarrhea.

The C. diff infection often manifests as mild to moderate diarrhea with possible abdominal cramping. It is estimated that 1 in 5 hospitalized patients become colonized with C. diff during their stay with more than 30% developing diarrhea. It is also one of the most common nosocomial infections.

1. Mechanism

A C. diff infection results in the disturbance of the bacterial balance in the colon due to the colonization of the bacterium. The release of toxins also damages the mucosa causing inflammation. There are two types of toxins with toxin A being an enterotoxin while toxin B is a cytotoxin. Both these toxins are able to bind to receptors on the intestinal cells and cause various issues. In animal model studies, researchers have hypothesized that some intestinal cells that survive toxin B may contribute to the development of inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome due to persistent inflammation and stimulation of preneoplastic (pre-cancerous) cells. The NAP1 strain of C. diff has been associated with the most severe C. diff infections as it results in full blown colitis that is characterized by renal failure, leukocytosis, and toxic megacolon.

C Diff

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