Clostridium Difficile Affects 500,000 Americans Each Year

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that cases of Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) infected nearly 500,000 patients in a single year, with 29,000 dying within 30 days of the initial diagnosis. C. difficile causes inflammation of the colon and deadly diarrhea.

The alarming facts from the 2011 study indicate that: [1]

  • 65.8% were health care–associated
  • 24.2% had onset during hospitalization
  • Incidence estimates were higher among females
  • Incidence higher among persons 65 years of age or older

People on antibiotics are 7-10 times more likely to get C. difficile while on the drugs and during the month after. More than 80% of C. difficile deaths occurred in people 65 and older and healthcare setting such as hospitals or nursing homes have a greater risk for infection.

To facilitate prevention of C. difficile, the CDC recommends improving antibiotic prescribing, use tests for accurate results to prevent spread, rapidly identify and isolate patients with C. difficile, wear gloves and gowns when treating patients with C. difficile, and clean room surfaces with EPA approved, spore killing disinfectant. Over the next five years, the CDC plans to combat C. difficile infections and antibiotic resistance under the National Strategy to Combat Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria (CARB) to enhance national capabilities for antibiotic stewardship, outbreak surveillance, and antibiotic resistance prevention. The CDC provides resources on Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) and guidelines and recommendations.

Photo courtesy of the CDC’s Public Health Image Library


  1. Lessa FC, Mu Y, Bamberg WM, et al. Burden of Clostridium difficile Infection in the United States. N Engl J Med. 2015 Feb 26;372(9):825-834.