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Clostridium Difficile (Cdiff)

What is Clostridium difficile?

Clostridium difficile is a bacterium that can be found in people’s intestines (their “digestive tract” or “gut”). However, it does not cause disease by its presence alone; It can be found in healthy people. It causes disease when the normal bacteria in the gut, with which C. difficile competes, are disadvantaged, usually by someone taking antibiotics, allowing the C. difficile to grow to unusually high levels. This allows the toxin they produce to reach levels where it attacks the intestine and causes symptoms of disease.

How do you know if someone has Clostridium difficile?

Clostridium difficile causes diarrhoea (mild to severe) and, unusually, life threatening inflammation of the intestines. Other symptoms can include fever, loss of appetite, nausea and abdominal pain or tenderness.

How do ambulance staff stop Clostridium difficile spreading?

Ambulance staff take special precautions with patients who have Clostridium difficile in order to stop it spreading to other people.

Simple hygiene measures reduce the risk of spreading Clostridium difficile:

  • Everyone should clean their hands before and after touching patients.
  • Hands can be cleaned with soap and water or moist hand wipes.
  • Alcohol gel is not effective against Clostridium difficile.
  • Staff will wear gloves and aprons when they care for a patient who has Clostridium difficile.
  • The area where the patient was sitting and any equipment used on the patient will be cleaned using biocidal wipes.
  • If linen is used, eg sheets or blankets, these items will be changed between patients.

Does a patient with Clostridium difficile have to be transported on their own?

Patients who have Clostridium difficile must be transported on their own.

Further information is available from the Health Protection Agency website.