CDC / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY CDC / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Clostridium difficile bacteria, light micrograph. These Gram positive, rod-shaped bacteria cause pseudomembranous colitis, one of the most common hospital-acquired infections, and antibiotic- associated diarrhoea. It is becoming increasingly resistant to the antibiotics used to treat it. The infection is often caught from bacterial spores, which are formed in unfavourable conditions. When a patient takes a course of antibiotics the normal flora in their gut is killed off, allowing C. difficile to colonise it. It produces 2 toxins, which cause inflammation of the intestinal wall (colitis) with diarrhoea, abdominal pain and fever. Infection can be fatal.
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