News 4 Investigates: Daily Briefing

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News 4 Investigates: Stomach Superbug

by rkinsaul

KMOV.com

Posted on May 4, 2009 at 7:00 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 3:05 PM

christy.jpgChristy Koenemann came down with flu-like symptoms, but it took weeks for doctors to figure out what was making her sick. The sharp stabbing pains in the stomach told them that it probably wasn't the flu. After a series of tests, doctors determined that she had a nasty gut bug called Clostridium difficile. News 4 Investigates took an in-depth look at this nasty stomach bug. Here's the "director's cut" version of that story. Clostridium difficile, or c-diff for short, is a bacteria that eats away at the lining of the colon, but can also cause life-threatening infection. One reason Christy was hard to diagnose is that she's not the typical patient. C-diff is much more common in older adults who are in nursing homes or hospitals. This stomach bug is causing a lot of alarm because it's moving through the general population and it has developed a drug-resistant strain that's much more toxic and a lot harder to kill.

c-diff b&w.jpg The symptoms of C. difficile are watery diarrhea, fever, loss of appetite, nausea and abdominal pain. It commonly flares up after someone has finished taking an antibiotic. Ironically the treatment is usually a prescription for another, stronger antibiotic. Sometimes surgery is required. Another scary aspect of this infection of the colon is how easily it's spread. It's transmitted on hands and can survive on surfaces for up to months. You could pick it up from a doorknob, handrail, family pet or even a swimming pool. It's even been found in meat sold at grocery stores. Hand sanitizers don't kill it. The best way to stop it's spread and prevent an infection is by washing your hands. Some doctor also believe that the intake of probiotics can help prevent an infection from c-diff.


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