(This post about C. Diff Disinfectant best practices is excerpted from C Diff In 30 Minutes, by Dr. J. Thomas Lamont) Patients are often terrified that they will spread the C. diff infection to family or friends. As noted in C Diff In 30 Minutes, this is extremely rare.
Consider that doctors examining C. diff patients in their office do not wear gowns, gloves, or masks. In fact, doctors examine thousands of C. diff-infected patients every year — but they are rarely infected. For friends and family members, the risk of infection is similarly unlikely.
C. diff is transmitted to patients by ingestion of spores from the environment. Only a small fraction of patients taking antibiotics (one in a hundred to one in a thousand) develop C. diff infection, so the risk of transmission to anyone is very small. The risk of transmitting C. diff to a personal contact who is not taking antibiotics is even smaller. At our hospital, we recommend the following measures to prevent the spread of C. diff:
- Doctors and nurses: Hand washing with soap and water, or with alcohol-based hand sanitizers, before and after examining patients with C. diff.
- Patients with C. diff: Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for one minute after using the bathroom, and wipe down the toilet seat with alcohol wipes if you are passing liquid stool.
- Family members: Wash your hands with soap and water before eating to avoid ingesting C. diff spores, especially if you are taking an antibiotic.
For more information and practical advice about the causes of C. diff, recurring C. diff, and how GI and infectious disease specialists typically approach cdiff infections, read C. Diff In 30 Minutes, available as a paperback, eBook, or PDF. The author is Dr. J. Thomas Lamont, one of the world’s leading Clostridium difficile researchers and a doctor at Beth-Israel hospital in Boston.