Asymptomatic C. diff carriers pose infection risk in hospitals, study finds

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Clostridium difficile infections may originate outside of hospital settings more often than previously thought, according to a study published in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.

For the study, researchers at New York City-based Montefiore Medical Center tested 220 patients with no symptoms of a C. diff infection who were admitted between July 2017 and March 2018. Researchers also followed up with patients after six months.

They identified 9.6 percent of patients as C. diff carriers upon admission. After six months, 38 percent of carriers developed symptomatic C. diff infections. In contrast, only 2 percent of noncarriers developed infections.

The results contradict the notion that patients usually contract the bacteria during a hospital stay, researchers said. Identifying C. diff carriers upon admission could be a useful new infection prevention strategy for hospitals, they added.

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