What is C. diff infection?
C. diff is a shorthand for the bacteria called Clostridioides difficile. Often C. diff bacteria is already present in the digestive tract (intestines). When your child takes an antibiotic, the levels of good bacteria are reduced in the tract. The good bacteria help keep other bacteria, such as C. diff, from becoming too many. So, the loss of good bacteria makes it possible for the number of C. diff to grow. When there are too many and the C. diff. take over, your child may get an illness called C. diff diarrhea. This can be a life-threatening infection.
What are the symptoms of C. diff infection?
If the bacteria in your child’s digestive track is not balanced and the C. diff take over, they will make toxins. The toxins attack the wall of the intestine. When left untreated, the toxins may cause an ulcer—a hole in the intestine wall. Your child’s symptoms may include diarrhea and cramping. Later stages include flu-like symptoms, such as weakness, lack of fluids, fever, nausea, vomiting, and blood in the stool.
How is C. diff diagnosed?
The lab staff must test a sample of your child’s stool to be certain there is a C. diff infection.
What will staff do if my child has a C. diff infection?
Prescribe Antibiotics – Two antibiotics are used to treat this illness. The most common is metronidazole. If that is ineffective, the doctor will prescribe vancomycin.
Contact Precautions – If a patient has a C. diff infection, they will be placed on contact isolation precautions. Staff and visitors should wear gloves and gowns while in the patient’s room.
Careful Cleaning – Surfaces should be disinfected with a product containing chlorine bleach. C. diff cannot survive cleaning products that contain bleach.
What can be done to help prevent C. diff ?
Hand Washing – Staff should clean their hands well with soap and warm water before and after treating each patient in their care. Patients, their families, and visitors should also clean their hands often.
If you have questions about C. diff or your child’s health, talk to the doctor or nurse.
This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.
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