Clostridium difficile is a bacteria (germ) present in the intestine of approximately 3% of healthy adults. If this bacteria remains within the gut it will not cause any harm.
Clostridium difficile toxin associated diarrhoea (CDTAD) is usually caused by the use of antibiotics that disturb the natural balance of bacteria in the bowel. This results in production of toxins in the gut which causes symptoms such as watery diarrhoea, abdominal pain and fever. In the majority of patients these symptoms resolve and a full recovery is usual.
Patient information leaflets available:
How is Clostridium difficile diagnosed?
Patients who are receiving, or have recently received a course of antibiotics within the past few weeks and experience diarrhoea may have CDTAD.
This, and other bacterial causes of diarrhoea, can be diagnosed by laboratory testing of stool samples.
What will happen to me now?
If you are experiencing diarrhoea you may be nursed in a single room to avoid the spread of bacteria to other patients.
Occasionally patients are nursed in a bay together with other patients similarly affected.
Staff will wear gloves and aprons when providing direct care. All staff and visitors entering your room will need to use the hand hygiene facilities provided.
If you are not experiencing diarrhoea, nursing staff will continue to monitor your condition and you will not require a single room unless your condition changes.
How can Clostridium difficile be treated?
Fortunately most patients experience only a mild illness which usually resolves with fluid replacement either by mouth or intravenous drip and once antibiotic treatment is completed.
However, if your symptoms do not resolve specific antibiotic therapy may be given.
Will this affect my family and friends?
Family and friends may still visit you. However, they will be asked to report to the nurse in charge before visiting and advised to use the hand hygiene facilities provided.
When will I be clear of Clostridium difficile?
Repeated stool specimens are not required. The toxin will continue to be present in your stool for some time following resolution of symptoms. Your need for care in a single room is dependent on whether you still have diarrhoea.
What happens next?
You will continue to be nursed in a single room until you have no diarrhoea for two days. You can then be nursed in a main bay with other patients.
It is not unusual for patients to have recurrence of diarrhoea.
If your symptoms persist or return please inform the nursing staff or doctor as further antibiotics may be required.
When the symptoms of diarrhoea have stopped you do not have to take any special precautions and can return to your normal daily routine.