Clostridium Difficile Infection

Epidemiology and Informatics
Public Health

What would you like to do?

What you need to know

Sections on this page

    Basic Clostridium difficile Information

    What is Clostridium difficile (C. diff)?

    Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, is a bacterium found in feces. C. diff 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?

    • Past use of antibiotics or proton-pump inhibitors
    • Being elderly
    • A weakened immune system
    • History of stomach or intestinal surgery
    • Long stay in a healthcare facility

    How to prevent spread of C. diff at home?

    • Wash hands often, especially when preparing food or after using the bathroom
    • Family members should wash hands often
    • Only take antibiotics when necessary as shown: Get Smart Chart - Know When Antibiotics Work
    • 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:

    Prevention of C. diff Transmission Between Facilities

    To ensure safe patient contact and communication about preventing infections during patient transfers, think about using this suggested Interfacility Infection Control Transfer Form.  

    Information for Laboratories

    DHHS' reportable disease regulations require reporting all C. diff positive results to public health. There are several tests available for C. diff. However, scientists are still trying to find the most efficient and accurate method.

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