What is Clostridium difficile?

Clostridium difficile (pronounced kloSTRID-ee-um dif-uh-SEEL), also known as C. diff. or C. difficile), is a germ that can cause diarrhea or a more serious intestinal condition such as colitis.

What causes Clostridium difficile?

When a person takes antibiotics, the “good germs” in the intestines are killed off making it easier to become infected by the Clostridium difficile germ. The germ is found in stool (bowel movement), and is spread to other people by unwashed hands, contaminated surfaces, or objects.

In a healthcare setting, the germs have been found on objects such as toilets, bathroom fixtures, bed rails, and rectal thermometers. The germ is able to survive for a very long time on a variety of surfaces.

What are the symptoms of Clostridium difficile?

Symptoms may include:

  • Watery diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Stomach (belly) pain or tenderness

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