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Clostridium difficile: Biology, disease, and treatment

Martin, Elizabeth
Clostridium difficile is a bacterium that under certain conditions can be pathogenic and cause Clostridium difficile Associated Disease (CDAD). Its virulence factors help this bacterium to survive in undesirable environments and spread. Many people unknowingly carry this bacterium in their gastrointestinal tract, yet do not outwardly exhibit disease because normal microbial flora inhibits the growth of this bacterium. Those negatively affected by this bacterium are commonly the elderly and people on broad-spectrum antibiotics. However, an increase in infection is occurring outside of these common victims suggesting that adaptation of the bacterium is allowing it to spread to other populations. Prevention is still the number one priority in containing this bacterium as it can survive in an infective form virtually anywhere due to its ability to form endospores. It has also become resistant to antibiotics that had previously cured infections caused by C. difficile. An increasing amount of research is being conducted to find alternative treatments for those affected with CDAD. One alternative method that looks to be promising is fecal implantation, but more research needs to be conducted before it can be implemented as a standard treatment.