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It's a Parasite; It's a Virus; No, It's a Superbug!

It's a Parasite; It's a Virus; No, It's a Superbug!

Talk about a superbug with super strength. The germ Clostridium difficile sent more than 300,000 people to the hospital in 2005, and the number of cases has spiked by more than 10,000 a year, according to a new study. Before 2000, hardly anyone had heard of the infection.

Clostridium difficile, or C. diff (this name gives it way more street cred), is spread through spores in feces. It lives in the colon and can cause diarrhea. In more severe cases, it can cause colitis, which is chronic inflammation of the colon lining. When patients are prescribed antibiotics to treat their symptoms, C-diff decimates the new, foreign competing bacteria and multiplies. Worse yet, the C-diff spores seem to be impervious to household cleaners and soaps, too.

Although the superbug may seem super scary, researchers say there’s no reason to freak just yet. Only a small percentage of cases, 2.3%, were fatal in 2004, and of those, most people had other health problems. In addition, the infection mostly affects elderly patients and those with weakened immune systems.

What do you think it will take to stop this superbug sickness? Are you afraid of catching something like this? [Associated Press]

Posted: 5/29/08