What You Need To Know About C. Difficile Infection

December 4, 2019

– My next guest, Dayle, lost her mother and grandmother within
months of each other to an illness many people have never even heard of, including me. And then she ended up in the hospital with the very same infection. Here’s Dayle’s story. (mid-tempo music) – This is my mom and my grandma. In 2005, my grandmother contracted C. difficile, or C. diff. This disease is a highly
contagious bacterial infection. (dramatic music) When my grandmother was
released from the hospital my mother moved into her
house to care for her. The C. diff did return, and my grandmother was taken back to the hospital. While my grandmother was
fighting for her life my mother was experiencing
flu-like symptoms. I took my mother to the hospital and she was diagnosed with C. difficile. While my mother was battling C. diff my grandmother’s health
took a turn for the worst and she ended up passing away. And then I was hospitalized. I was completely shocked that
I came down with C. diff. My mother’s condition had worsened. They put her on a ventilator in the ICU. Ultimately she passed away. – Sit. – My daughters never got to
meet both wonderful women. I’m here living proof
that people can survive. But this disease tore my family apart. – Well Dayle is joining me now– – Thank you. – Along with our very good
friend and chief patient officer of Pfizer, Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall. So thank you both for being here. (audience applauding) – Thank you.
– Thank you. – I really appreciate it. And, Dayle, I can see this
is still very raw for you and I’m very sorry about your loss. When you started showing
symptoms of C. difficile, or C. diff, you caught
it really early, right? – Yes, I was actually at
my grandmother’s funeral and I started having stomach
issues and had fainted. My father took me to the hospital and I did test positive for C. difficile. I was actually taking antibiotics for a respiratory infection. And I have been told that
antibiotics do make you more susceptible to the C. diff infection. – Dr. Freda, what is C. difficile? – Clostridioides difficile,
or C. difficile is a bacterium that can cause a range of
symptoms from stomach pain and diarrhea to life-threatening
inflammation of the colon. And C. diff can live anywhere. That includes on surfaces like
doorknobs and toilet seats. And can stay on those surfaces
for months, despite cleaning. – So where does a person catch this germ? – Well you know, we used to think that people could only
catch this serious disease if they were in the hospital
or in a nursing home. We now know that about half of the cases are caught or acquired in the community. – Okay, so who does this affect? – So, first of all,
there are about or around 425,000 cases in the US per year. And it usually affects older people. So someone young like Dayle is not your typical C. diff patient. But as you can see, it can affect anyone. – Well Dayle mentioned
she took antibiotics. So how do antibiotics play a role in this? – Yeah so, as important
or while antibiotics are really an important
tool in treating infections, some can deplete the good
bacteria that lives in your gut. And this can possibly increase the risk of a C. diff infection. – Dayle, you recovered from the infection, but it came back, right? – Yes, I did get a recurrence
about two months later. Luckily this time it was caught early and I was able to continue
my treatments at home. And it’s been 14 years since I’ve had the C. difficile infection. (audience applauding) – Wow. So how common is it for
this infection to come back like it did in Dayle’s case? – Yeah, so not uncommon. But one in five people who are treated for C. difficile infections actually experience a recurrence. – And what’s important
is that the recurrence may not just be one time. It can recur again and again. – So what can people do to help prevent getting this infection? – First of all, only take
antibiotics when they’re needed and as directed by your doctor. Next, good personal hygiene. And that means good
old-fashioned hand washing with clean water and soap. Now the alcohol-based
sanitizers may not be enough to effectively kill these C. diff spores. So it’s important, hand
washing, clean water, and soap. And if you have are around someone who has a C. diff infection
and you begin to feel ill, then you have to do what Dayle did. And that is get to your doctor right away. And that way they can
monitor your symptoms, diagnose you early, and treat
you, because that’s key. – You bring really good
stuff we need to hear here. And to keep yourself and
your loved ones safe, make sure that you check
out their website for this, which is And while they’re there
they should do what? – They should sign up
for a monthly newsletter. – That’s right. Okay, I want to thank
all of my guests today, especially our friend
Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall.

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