What is C.diff?
C.diff, also known as Clostridioides difficile, Clostridium difficile, and C. difficile, is a germ that causes diarrhea and colitis. The illness typically occurs after use of antibiotic medications. Mostly older adults in hospitals or long-term care facilities are affected. Hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. are infected with C.diff in a hospital or care setting every year. The number of infections has decreased in recent years because of improved prevention measures, such as UVC disinfection. Prevention measures are critical because 1 in 11 people over the age of 65 diagnosed with a C.diff infection die within 1 month.
What are the Symptoms of C.diff?
Some people never become sick but still carry the bacteria in their intestines. These people are carriers of the bacteria and can spread infections. Symptoms usually appear within 5 to 10 days after starting antibiotic medications. However, they can occur as soon as the first day or up to 3 months later.
The Most Common Symptoms of C.diff
The most common symptoms of mild to moderate C. difficile infection are watery diarrhea 3 or more times a day for more than 1 day and mild abdominal cramping.
The Most Severe Symptoms of C.diff
People who have a severe C. difficile infection may need to be hospitalized. The symptoms of severe infection include: watery diarrhea as often as 10 to 15 times per day, dehydration, fever, nausea, abdominal pain, rapid heart rate, loss of appetite, increased white blood cell count, kidney failure, weight loss, swollen abdomen, and blood or pus in the stool.
Is C.diff Contagious?
Yes, C.diff is contagious. To keep from spreading C.diff to others, it’s important for infected patients to wash their hands with soap and water every time they use the bathroom and before they eat. They should take showers and wash with soap. People outside of healthcare settings can also catch C.diff. Some strains in the general population can cause serious infections and are more likely to affect younger people. About 170,000 infections occur outside of health care settings every year in the U.S., and the number is increasing. They should also try to use a separate bathroom if they have diarrhea. It is estimated that there are half a million infections in the U.S. each year overall.
C.diff Risk Factors
It can affect anyone, but most cases occur when taking antibiotics or shortly after finishing taking antibiotics. The risk of catching C.diff is higher for people that are over the age of 65, have recently stayed at a hospital or nursing home, have a weakened immune system, and have previously been infected with C.diff. 1 in 6 people who have been infected with C.diff will catch it again in the subsequent 2 to 8 weeks.
What is UVC Disinfection?
Ultraviolet-C (UVC) disinfection is one type of no-touch technology shown to be a successful adjunct to manual cleaning. According to the FDA, UVC radiation is a known disinfectant for air and nonporous surfaces. UVC technology deploys UV light to penetrate the cell walls of spores, bacteria and viruses and renders these harmful pathogens unable to reproduce and spread after treatment with UVC energy. UVC radiation has effectively been used for decades to reduce the spread of bacteria and harmful pathogens. When bundled with manual cleaning and disinfection protocols, the technology significantly reduces patient exposure to HAI, such as C.diff.
How to Choose the Best UVC System
In today’s healthcare environment – including hyper awareness of virus transmission risk – hospitals need to choose technologies that can be measured and are able to provide the data needed to show proof of UVC dosing and compliance. UVC devices should be easily accessible to high-touch surface areas. Those surfaces need the most direct light to effectively and efficiently rid them of harmful, HAI-causing pathogens.
UVC radiation can only inactivate a virus if the virus is directly exposed to the radiation. If a surface is under a shadow, it won’t be disinfected. Some UVC systems don’t administer the proper dose and miss areas that may contain dangerous pathogens. The right UVC system should measure the delivered UVC dose and have a “pause and reposition” feature that helps operators ensure targeted areas of the room have received optimal dosage to kill harmful pathogens. This technology helps staff quickly disinfect crucial areas and return rooms to service.
Additionally, measuring the delivered UVC dose, tracking treatment data, monitoring effectiveness, and sharing with necessary stakeholders is an important function of UVC light technology. Using patented remote UVC sensors and pausing and repositioning the UVC system, helps address variables such as room shape and other obstacles that might prevent areas from being disinfected. The best UVC solutions work to reach all targeted areas within a treated room, including those in shadowed or hard-to-reach places.
Contact us to learn more about UVC disinfection.