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U.S. hospitals have reported a 200 percent increase in the deadly CDAD disease from 2000 to 2005.  While there has been a lot of press about the drug-resistent MRSA staph infection virus, you may not have even heard of CDAD, or Clostirium difficile-associated disease. 

CDAD is an infection caused by the Clostirium difficile bacterium, also known as C. diff.  It typcially attacks hospitalized patients over the age of 65 when the normal condition of the colon has been disrupted by antimicrobial drugs.  It can manifest itself as a case of mild diarrhea, but it can turn into a full-blown illness the worst of which is treatable only by removing the colon.

The fecal bacterium generates spores that can remain viable for weeks.  If they are left  in bathrooms, on floors or bedpans from insufficient cleaning,  patients can pick them up merely by touching one of these infected surfaces.  C. diff can then be ingested with their next meal.

Alcohol sanitizers do not work on C. diff.  It is only killed with bleach.  Therefore, it is the hospitals responsibility to insure that cleaning procedures are followed.

While many of the common antibiotics do not work against this infection, it can be controlled by the stronger vancomycin.  However, there are some strains that are resistent to all treatments which is when drastic measures must be taken.

According to Besty McCaughey, head of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths, 

“The best treatment is prevention. Hospitals must improve their hygiene practices and patients must be vigilant about not touching surfaces and keeping their hands out of their mouths. This is a killer bacterium and we can’t be lazy about it. “

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