Clostridial infections


Clostridial infection, any of several infectious conditions in animals and humans resulting from Clostridium species, bacteria that are found in soil and that enter the body via puncture wounds or contaminated food. These bacteria synthesize and release poisonous substances called exotoxins.

Clostridioides difficile infection is spread by bacterial spores found within feces Surfaces may become contaminated with the spores with further spread occurring via the hands of healthcare workers. Risk factors for infection include antibiotic or proton pump inhibitor use, hospitalization, other health problems, and older age. Diagnosis is by stool culture or testing for the bacteria's DNA or toxins. If a person tests positive but has no symptoms, the condition is known as C. difficile colonization rather than an infection.

Prevention efforts include terminal room cleaning in hospitals, limiting antibiotic use, and handwashing campaigns in hospitals. Alcohol based hand sanitizer does not appear effective. Discontinuation of antibiotics may result in resolution of symptoms within three days in about 20% of those infected. The antibiotics metronidazole, vancomycin or fidaxomicin, will cure the infection. Retesting after treatment, as long as the symptoms have resolved, is not recommended, as a person may often remain colonized. Recurrences have been reported in up to 25% of people. Some tentative evidence indicates fecal microbiota transplantation and probiotics may decrease the risk of recurrence.[

Signs and symptoms of CDI range from mild diarrhea to severe life-threatening inflammation of the colon.

In adults, a clinical prediction rule found the best signs to be significant diarrhea ("new onset of more than three partially formed or watery stools per 24-hour period"), recent antibiotic exposure, abdominal pain, fever (up to 40.5 °C or 105 °F), and a distinctive foul odor to the stool resembling horse manure. In a hospital population, prior antibiotic treatment plus diarrhea or abdominal pain had a sensitivity of 86% and a specificity of 45%. In this study with a prevalence of positive cytotoxin assays of 14%, the positive predictive value was 18% and the negative predictive value was 94%.

In children, the most prevalent symptom of a CDI is watery diarrhea with at least three bowel movements a day for two or more days, which may be accompanied by fever, loss of appetite, nausea, and/or abdominal pain. Those with a severe infection also may develop serious inflammation of the colon and have little or no diarrhea.


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Microbiology: Current Research