Rate of C. diff cases continues to climb outside hospitals

Findings presented at this year's American College of Gastroenterology annual meeting suggest that Clostridium difficile infections are becoming more common outside of hospitals, a grim development given that these infections can be difficult to handle even in a more controlled hospital setting.

C. diff. is a particularly nasty bug, generating symptoms like diarrhea and colon inflammation, and can be fatal for some patients. Worse, the bug is difficult to treat at times, since some strains are immune to standard drugs. C. diff. infections kill an estimated 5,000 people in the U.S. per year, the CDC reports.

In the past, C. diff. has largely been found inside of hospitals, nursing homes and similar facilities. Now, the rate of community C. diff. infections is growing, particularly among elderly people.

The study presented at the meeting examined 385 cases of the infection, dating from 1991 to 2005. Researchers found that those who caught the bug outside of a hospital were younger, averaging 50 years old rather than the 72-year-old average in hospitals.

Fortunately, these people seem to have less severe cases than those in the hospital, but experts are still concerned by the trend. They're recommending that doctors and patients be aware of the bug and watch for symptoms like abdominal cramps and diarrhea.

To learn more about this trend:
- read this HealthDay News article

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