C. diff more common than MRSA, can be contained with bleach wipe, studies find

Just as Clostridium difficile (C. diff) is rapidly becoming one of the most dangerous hospital-acquired infections, new research shows it can be slowed down with a simple bleach disinfectant wipe.

Although C. diff isn't considered to be as dangerous as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which results in roughly 18,000 patient deaths annually, it's believed to be more common. Spread by spores in feces, C. diff can cause diarrhea, sepsis and colitis and causes 9,000 deaths per year, the Washington Post reports.

Researchers from Duke University examined incidences of both types of infections at 28 southeastern U.S. hospitals between 2008 and 2009, and found 847 cases of C. diff, compared with 680 cases of MRSA, leading them to believe that C. diff is more common.

"C. difficile deserves more attention. The key is to develop prevention methods aimed at C. difficile while still maintaining the success we've had with MRSA," said Dr. Becky Miller, one of the study's authors. They presented their findings in Atlanta over the weekend at the Fifth Decennial International Conference on Healthcare-Associated Infections.

Enter the Mayo Clinic, which recently found that a good portion of C. diff infections can be prevented. Researchers with the Rochester, Minn.-based hospital, who also presented their findings at the Atlanta conference, found that cleaning high-touch surfaces using a "spore-killing bleach disinfectant wipe" drastically increased the time in between reported C. diff infections.

While the team conducting the study initially aimed to increase the time between reported hospital-acquired infections to more than 20 days, at the study's conclusion, "one unit had gone 137 days without a...C.diff infection," said Dr. Robert Orenstein, the study's lead investigator.

The bleach wipes used in the Mayo Clinic study contained 0.55 percent sodium hypochlorite, and were the only cleaning product registered with the Environmental Protection Agency as "effective against C. diff spores." 

To learn more:
- here's the Mayo Clinic's press release
- read this Health & Medicine article
- check out this Washington Post article
- read this AboutLawsuits.com post