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Clostridium difficile Infection

What is Clostridium difficile (C. diff)? 

Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, is a bacterium found in the feces that causes inflammation of the colon, known as colitis. Symptoms of C. Diff infection include: watery diarrhea for at least three bowel movements per day for two or more days, loss of appetite, abdominal pain or tenderness, fever, and nausea. 

What are risk factors associated with C. diff infections?

  • Prior use of antibiotics or proton pump inhibitors
  • Being elderly, immunocompromised, or having had gastrointestinal surgery
  • Lengthy residence in a healthcare facility

How to prevent spread of C. diff at home?

For more information about prevention at home, see'Living with C. diff' booklet from the Arizona Healthcare-Associated Infections Program. 

Information for Healthcare Professionals

To prevent the spread of C. diff in hospitals, healthcare professionals should:

  • Use contact precautions and appropriate hand hygiene practices
  • Monitor compliance to hand hygiene, contact precautions, and environment cleaning practices among staff
  • Communicate C. diff status among staff and between facilities to reduce transmission
  • Report C. diff cases to public health
  • Encourage appropriate and correct antibiotic prescribing through antimicrobial stewardship

For more information about C. diff prevention for healthcare professionals, see Hand hygiene in a healthcare setting from CDC , Clostridium difficile FAQs for Healthcare Providers from CDC and the IDSA SHEA 2017 C diff guidelines.pdf

Prevention of C. diff transmission between facilities  

To ensure safe patient contact and infection prevention communication during interfacility patient transfers, consider using this suggested Interfacility Infection Control Transfer Form.pdfInterfacility Infection Control Transfer Form.pdf

Information for Laboratories

All C. diff positive results are required to be reported to public health under DHHS reportable disease regulations. There are several tests available for C. diff, and the most efficient and accurate method is still being determined.

For more information on C. diff testing, refer to the IDSA SHEA 2017 C diff guidelines.pdf and review the following article by Crobach et. al. originally published in Clinical Microbiology and Infection in 2016Update of the diagnostic guidance document for Clostridium difficile infection. 


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