More hospital patients than previously thought have been sickened by a drug-resistant bacteria, according to a new report.
Clostridium difficile (C. diff) has infected or colonized around 13 out of every 1,000 patients, according to surveys conducted by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.
Previous estimates were much lower – between 6.5 and 20 times less than the new figures.
C. diff is a bacterium that can cause diarrhea and intestinal conditions. In recent years, a virulent and antibiotic-resistant strain has arisen and is growing more common.
People are at a higher risk of contracting C. diff if they are older, have a weakened immune system, have been hospitalized for long periods or have recently taken antibiotics, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The APIC study confirmed the fact that most C. diff infections are picked up in a hospital, with 72 percent confirmed to have been acquired in a healthcare setting.
"This study shows that C. difficile infection is an escalating issue in our nation’s healthcare facilities," commented lead investigator Dr. William Jarvis.
APIC has published a set of guidelines aimed at helping hospitals prevent the transmission of C. diff.