A Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) is a type of bacterial infection that can affect the digestive system. Spores of the C. difficile bacteria can be passed out of the human body in faeces (stools) and can survive for many weeks, and sometimes months, on objects and surfaces.
The genetic sequences of the C. diff bacteria we see in hospital C. diff Infections vary greatly. We can use this information to determine where the infections are coming from.
When we analysed the genetic material of the C. diff infections in the hospital, surprisingly, more than half of the cases appeared to be coming from somewhere else, and were not due to spread in hospital.
We have also been able to find the C. diff bacteria in the gut flora of healthy individuals with no symptoms.
Research suggests that in most cases, the C. diff bacteria does not cause problems, but if the gut flora is disturbed, by antibiotics or a weakened immune system, it can ‘take over’, and cause a severe infection.