Last Updated on June 14, 2022
What is C. diff?
Clostridium difficile, commonly known as C. diff, is a type of bacterium that can be found throughout the environment — but is most commonly found in feces (human and animal) and food products, such as processed meats. It causes severe diarrhea and inflammation of the colon (colitis). A small number of healthy people naturally carry the bacteria in their large intestines and don’t have ill effects from the infection.
Preventing the Spread of C. diff
C. diff is usually spread when someone who is infected (or caring for an infected person) doesn’t clean their hands with soap and water after using the bathroom. Its spores can then spread to food, surfaces, and objects when infected people don’t wash their hands thoroughly. These spores can persist in a room for weeks or months . If you touch a surface contaminated with Clostridium difficile spores, and they get inside your body, you may become infected.
This bacteria can also live on people’s skin. People who touch an infected person’s skin can pick up the germs on their hands. According to the CDC , taking a shower with soap and water can reduce the C. diff on your skin and lessen the chance of it spreading.
Processed food in the following categories has also been shown to be a source of C. diff transmission.
- Raw beef, pork, and chicken (Increased cooking times and temperatures spores can inactivate the bacteria, within the range of 163–185°F for 15 minutes)
- Ready-to-eat products (deli meats and minimally processed fruits and vegetables)
- Fish and shellfish (which are often eaten raw or undercooked)
The CDC states that the source of C. difficile in retail meats may come from spores in the animal’s muscle or other tissues, fecal or environmental contamination of carcasses, or contamination during processing. Spores could persist in packing plants, resulting in contamination of carcasses or food products during processing. Contamination may also occur in retail meat markets.
Our products use STER-L-RAY® Germicidal UV-C Lamps producing ultraviolet wavelengths at 254 nanometers, the region of germicidal effectiveness most destructive to harmful microorganisms including Clostridium difficile. Germicidal Ultraviolet (UV-C) surface disinfection (at the dosage listed below) can inactivate C. diff bacteria in many applications, including hospitals, healthcare facilities, animal husbandry, and meat processing facilities. View our Application-Specific Page on UV-C in Meat Processing.
C. diff: Classification & Germicidal UV Dose for Inactivation
|Organism:||Alternate Name:||Type:||Disease:||UV Dose*:|
|Clostridium difficile||C. diff||Bacteria||Colitis||16.00 mJ/cm2|
Who can it affect?
The groups listed below are at a higher risk of developing an infection.
Where is it found?
What can it infect?
How does it spread?
Eating Contaminated Processed Food
Touching Contaminated Surfaces
People at High Risk for Contracting C. diff
Most cases of C. diff occur while you’re taking antibiotics or not long after you’ve finished taking antibiotics (since these drugs tend to destroy some of the normal, helpful bacteria in your intestines, in addition to bad bacteria). People are 7 to 10 times more likely to become infected while on antibiotics and during the month after.
Other risk factors include the following (keep in mind that you can become infected even without these characteristics):
- Age 65 and older
- A recent stay at a hospital or nursing home
- A weakened immune system, such as people with HIV/AIDS, cancer, or organ transplant patients taking immunosuppressive drugs (specifically, smokers have been found to be 80% more likely to develop an infection)
- Previous infection with C. diff or known exposure to the germs (the risk continues to increase with each infection)
Symptoms of a C. diff Infection
According to the CDC , most individuals experience the following symptoms from an infection:
- Severe diarrhea
- Stomach tenderness or pain
- Loss of appetite
People who have a severe infection tend to become dehydrated and may hospitalization. It can cause the colon to become inflamed and sometimes form patches of raw tissue that can bleed or produce pus.
Sources on C. diff:
The above information can be found on the following pages. Please read complete articles to learn more.
- CDC: Clostridioides difficile
- Mayo Clinic: C. difficile Infection
- NCBI: Higher Rates of Clostridium difficile Infection Among Smokers
- NCBI: Clostridium difficile Infection in Older Adults
- Clostridium difficile in Foods and Animals: History and Measures to Reduce Exposure
- CDC: Clostridium difficile in Retail Meat Products
- CFAES: Researchers: Food May Be Source of C. diff Infections
* Nominal germicidal UV dosage necessary to inactivate better than 99% of microorganism.
Learn More & Shop Our Products to Inactivate C. diff
Made in the USA from U.S. and imported parts, the Air & Surface Disinfection product lines from Atlantic Ultraviolet Corporation® are constructed of the highest quality materials and use germicidal UV-C lamps to disinfect air, inactivating microorganisms like C. diff.
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