ATLANTA – As one superbug seems to be fading as a threat in hospitals, another is on the rise, a new study suggests.
A dangerous, drug-resistant staph infection called MRSA is often seen as the biggest germ threat to patients in hospitals and other health care facilities. But infections from Clostridium difficile – known as C-diff – are surpassing MRSA infections, the study of 28 hospitals in the Southeast found.
Dr. Becky Miller, an infectious diseases specialist at Duke University Medical Center, presented the research Saturday in Atlanta at a conference on infection in health care facilities.
MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, can’t be treated with common antibiotics.
C-diff, also resistant to some antibiotics, is found in the colon and can cause diarrhea and the more serious intestinal condition colitis. It is spread by spores in feces. The spores are difficult to kill with conventional cleaners or hand sanitizers, so some of the disinfection measures against MRSA don’t work on C-diff.
The study looked at infection rates from hospitals in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia in 2008 and 2009. It found the rate of hospital-acquired C-diff infections was 25 percent higher than MRSA infections. The hospitals counted 847 infections of hospital-acquired C-diff, and 680 cases of MRSA.
Miller also reported that C-diff was increasing at the hospitals since 2007, while MRSA has been declining since 2005.