As people age, natural immunity can suffer. Admit them to hospitals and the elderly become exposed to infections of all kinds. A particularly deadly one is Clostridium difficile infection (CDI). “Clostridium difficile often called C. difficile or C. diff, is a bacterium that can cause symptoms ranging from diarrhea to life-threatening inflammation of the colon”, according to Mayo Clinic.
Hospitals have made some attempts to fight it in recent years as knowledge increases and protocols improve for infection control. Nevertheless, nearly a half million infections were reported by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in 2011 in the United States and 29,000 died within 30 days of the initial diagnosis.
National Health Service England also reports large numbers.
Nursing homes and long-term care facilities are prime breeding spots.
Researchers Teena Chopra and Ellie J. C. Goldstein recently published a call to arms in an article titled Clostridium difficile Infection in Long-term Care Facilities: A Call to Action for Antimicrobial Stewardship
They report that long-term care facilities propagate a high rate of Clostridium difficile infection which can lead to complications and compromise in health. Contributing factors are:
- multiple courses of antibiotics
- longer length of antibiotic treatment
- previous Clostridium difficile infection which leaves dormant spores
The authors write “Although this obstacle to proper care is great, some simple solutions are available to healthcare providers. Probiotics may help improve natural immunity in patients, and strict adherence to antimicrobial stewardship standards could help reduce this serious bacterial threat.”