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Pathology:           C. difficile is a gram positive anaerobic bacterium that is capable of colonising the gut. The disease is caused by the production of two toxins: A (enterotoxin) and B (cytotoxin).

Aetiology:           The risk of contracting the infection is increased when antibiotics are used, as well as in old age, when staying in the hospital or institutional environment.

Symptoms:           The primary symptoms of this condition are diarrhoea, abdominal pain and fever.

Signs:               The signs associated with the infection may include abdominal tenderness and dehydration.


  • FBC (Full Blood Count)
  • Stool culture tested for toxins and antigen

Treatment:           In order to prevent further infection, isolation and barrier nursing measures should be taken. Additionally, fluids and stool charts should be monitored. In cases of mild to moderate infection, discontinuing use of prior antibiotics and starting metronidazole is recommended. For severe or recurrent infections, oral vancomycin should be taken.

Complications:           Possible complications of this condition include pseudomembranous colitis, sepsis and toxic megacolon.

Prognosis:            For individuals who receive treatment quickly, the prognosis is usually very good, although a recurrence rate of up to 20% has been reported.

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