Clostridium difficile is a toxin-producing bacterium that causes diarrhea and more serious intestinal conditions like bowel inflammation and perforation. C. difficile infections are almost always linked to medical care; individuals taking antibiotics or with recent medical care contact are most at risk.
The organism is responsible for 337,000 infections and 14,000 deaths every year. Although death is more common in the elderly, almost half of C. difficile infections happen in people younger than 65 years old. Infections can be recurrent and not respond to treatment. C. difficile spores can remain viable in the environment for long periods of time.
Spread of C. difficile infection can be prevented by hand washing, using antibiotics only when necessary, and effective healthcare environmental cleaning.
What is required?
As part of population-based surveillance, select counties report C. difficile cases to the state health department.
As a part of mandated hospital reporting, most Oregon acute care hospitals report C. difficile laboratory reports to the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN).