Friday, October 13, 2006

Clostridium difficile report

Today's Morning Edition is not yet on line, but I heard a report just now about Clostridium Difficile indicating a rising number of cases of this intestinal infection, suggesting that newer strains were developing that were not only resistent to the usual antibiotics but also capable of dumping up to twenty times the dose of toxin into the person with the infection.

This is scary stuff. Clostridium is the family of microbes that brings us more household names like tetanus and botulism. And like e. coli, it is one of those everyday germs that seems to be all around us but only gets out of hand when more virulent strains develop.

C. Difficile has been around for years, but it has been associated with institutions such as hospitals and nursing homes. What is noteworthy about today's report is that an increased number of patients are "presenting" (don't you love that word?) who are otherwise young and healthy. In other words, we can expect sick or old people to get the infections because they already have compromised immune systems, but when otherwise healthy people get sick it raised concerns.

A quick search produces a raft of information. Combing through the language of science and politically sensitive reporting, we can see a picture of a modern medical demon produced by our own technology, another super-bug that will require yet another scientific advance to keep in check. Few are saying so in plain language, but new strains of antibiotic-resistent toxic bacteria are the inevitable result of widespread use, abuse and misuse of antibiotics.

How many times do physicians prescribe antibiotics for viral infections, not because they have any effect on the disease (they don't) but because they are trying to give a signal to the patient that they are doing something to make them better (they aren't, unless you consider a false sense of safety)?

Here are some links I checked before I got bored and moved on.

Data & Statistics about Clostridium difficile Infections from the CDC. Rather dry, not particularly up-to-date general paper.

The Wikipedia article is a good overview.

The clostridium family described, including tetanus, botulism, perfringens and difficile. What a happy family! Something like an Adams family of microbes.

The clostridium difficile blog search results.
So why am I a blogger? Take a look at this list and discover how much information you can get in a short time by checking out blogs.
I'm just an old guy with a keyboard and already I know stuff that is not being discussed by more circumspect sources. For example, there seems to be a connection between the incidence of c. difficile and the use of drugs treating chronic indigestion. And c. difficile is the baseline germ behind a larger focus called CDAD, short for C. difficile--associated disease and it's been around for some time.

That ought to be enough to get you going.

I'm moving on to something else. And I don't aim to be taking antibiotics unless the doctor is certain that there is no other way that I can get well. My mother will be ninety in December and still takes no medicines. And she and Dad were cigarette smokers for forty years before they stopped. I think one's genetic deck of cards and attitude have a lot to do with good health.

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