Expert: we are vastly underestimating C. Difficile colonization

"I think we are vastly underestimating the number of people colonized by the C. difficile bacteria.  The statistics say something like 3% to 5%. I think that is much lower than what is actually out there,"  says the infectious-control director at the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion, Dr. Doug Sider.   

"There are healthy people who are carrying the bacteria and don't know it," Sider noted.  Those people could unwittingly carry the bacteria into a hospital -- and trigger an outbreak.  That is reason enough to take infection control measures seriously, he added.

The agency advises hospitals on infection and outbreak control. 

Some factors, like the physical space and design of a hospital, are difficult to control.  Older hospitals are cramped, crowded, and have few options to isolate patients, Dr. Sider suggested.  


  1. Dr. Sider says it is difficult to control C. Difficile in older hospitals where it is cramped and congested.....why then are they continuously cutting hospital beds as they have across Niagara which will only aggravate the problem? Incidentally Niagara is where they have had a serious epidemic of C. Difficile and the coroner may have to make an investigation.

    Pat Scholfield

  2. This is clearly an important issue; I hope it receives the media attention it deserves.

    Incidentally, it *can* happen that health authorities screw up with near-catastrophic consequences. There was a crisis a few months ago in S. Korea when agricultural authorities were not aggressive enough in vaccinating against foot-and-mouth disease. Then an epidemic broke out. Thousands of animals were slaughtered. More than this, because the crisis was a "surprise", I read reports of animals being buried alive (e.g., by bulldozer), which in turn caused psych trauma for the workers involved. Finally, the farmers affected took a big hit financially.

    I realize this is an example from agriculture. Nevertheless, it all could have been avoided; my understanding is the vaccine for foot-and-mouth is quite effective. In the case of antibiotic-proof bacteria, one would think precautions should be taken on an entirely different scale of strenuousness. God knows what will happen if virulant bacteria go epidemic.

    An ounce of prevention..............