Clostridium difficile is a killer.
Tens of thousands die each year worldwide from this stubborn infection. The bacteria set up shop after a course of antibiotics. Stronger antibiotics including vancomycin are given but sometimes people cannot permanently expel the tough spore-making bacteria. Extreme weight loss and death can follow.
Now there is a cure. Nasty, some may say, but in a matter of life or death, what’s a little scat among friends?
Fecal transplant has an almost 100% success rate.
Stool from healthy people is delivered to the intestines of the sick, either through a tube through the nose or an enema. A new study from the Netherlands compares the transplant with antibiotics:
…”transplants cured 15 of 16 people who had recurring infections with Clostridium difficile bacteria, whereas antibiotics cured only 3 of 13 and 4 of 13 patients in two comparison groups. “
Fecal therapy is not especially modern. According to Denise Grady writing in the New York Times recently: ” Fecal therapy has often been used to cure gut trouble in cows and horses. Books on traditional Chinese medicine mention giving it to people by mouth to cure diarrhea in the fourth century; one book called it yellow soup.”
The Economist also discussed it recently with a uniquely British sensibility, terming it “transpoosian”. Apparently researchers are looking forward to isolating the helpful strains of bacteria so a pill can replace the “chocolate milkshake”.
Until then, snicker all you want, but it works. And better yet, there’s no waiting list for donors.