Clostridium difficile (C. diff)
What is it?
- Clostridium difficile (C. diff) is a germ that can cause diarrhea
- It is commonly seen in hospital environments on things such as bed linens, bed rails, bathroom fixtures, and medical equipment
Signs and Symptoms
- Some people may have the bacteria but not be sick from it.
- If a person does get sick from it, they may have: watery diarrhea; fever; loss of appetite; belly pain
How do you get it?
- C. diff diarrhea affects people with frequent hospital stays, taking long term antibiotics
- The elderly and people with underlying long term illness are at highest risk
- This germ comes from the intestinal tract of people and can spread person-to-person through direct contact, and on shared objects
- In severe cases people will need hospitalization and special treatment
What to do at home
Family members that help with direct care should wash hands before and after providing care
Direct Care is defined as bathing, changing clothes/diapers, dressing changes, care of open wounds/lesions, toileting, feeding. Pushing a wheelchair or bringing a tray of food to someone is not direct care
If possible, dedicate one washroom for the person with C. difficile
Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 15 seconds:
Cleaning the house
Regular cleaning removes C. difficile spores. Use an all-purpose cleaner. Follow the directions on the label.
Wet the surface well and scrub. Pay special attention to areas that may be soiled with feces such as the toilet and sink
Bleach and water may be used as a disinfectant if washroom is shared.
1 part of bleach with 9 parts water. After washing and rinsing the area, use this solution on all hard surfaces of the washroom and allow it to air dry.
Never mix bleach with other chemicals.
Cleaning clothes/other fabrics
Wash clothes/fabrics separately if they are heavily soiled with feces:
- Rinse off feces; wash hands afterward
- Clean in a hot water cycle with laundry detergent
- Dry items in the dryer on high heat, if possible; dry clean where appropriate
- Regular cleaning- use the dishwasher or clean by hand with soap and water
C. difficile is reportable to the Medical Officer of Health only as a hospital outbreak.