Recurrent C. diff infections linked to higher death rates, research shows

Clostridium difficile infection recurrence may increase the risk of death in patients, according to a presentation at the 27th European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, held from April 22 to April 25, in Vienna, Austria.

Researchers from the National Infection Service, Public Health England in Cambridge, U.K., examined the outcomes of 6,874 patients who had acquired the C. difficile infection in a hospital between 2002 and 2013. Of these, 1,141 (16.6 percent) experienced C. diff recurrence.

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The researchers found that 49 percent of the recurrent C. diff patients died within a year, compared to 38 percent of patients who only suffered an initial infection. Also, 21 percent of recurrent C. diff patients suffered other complications as well, including dehydration and malnourishment. Only 18 percent of initial C. diff patients suffered other complications.

"The main risk factor for developing C. difficile infection is prior antibiotic use. These patients are often already ill from some other underlying illness, which explains why they needed antibiotics in the first place. Older people are at greater risk of C. difficile infection as they are often sicker, have other illnesses or conditions, and so need more antibiotics," notes Dr. David Enoch, a consultant microbiologist and infection control doctor at the National Infection Service and a researcher.

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