Clostridium difficile, known also as C. difficile, is a bacterium that can cause symptoms ranging from mild diarrhea to life-threatening inflammation of the colon. Illness from C. difficile most commonly affects older adults in hospitals or in long-term care facilities, often following long-term use of antibiotic medications.
People who have other illnesses or conditions requiring prolonged use of antibiotics, and the elderly, are at greater risk of acquiring this disease. The bacteria are found in the feces. People can become infected if they touch items or surfaces that are contaminated with feces and then touch their mouth or mucous membranes. Healthcare workers can spread the bacteria to patients or contaminate surfaces through hand contact.
Some people carry the bacterium C. difficile in their intestines. Though they may not show any noticeable symptoms, they may still spread the infection. Common symptoms may include: