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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) – Another Foodborne Pathogen?

Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) is a spore-forming, gram-positive anaerobic bacillus that produces two toxins: toxin A and toxin B. These toxins typically cause gastrointestinal disease, often with severe complications. In rare cases, C. difficile-associated disease can be fatal. Although C. difficile bacteria can be present in human intestinal tracts and cause no clinical symptoms (a condition called colonization), some individuals with C. difficile colonization are at increased risk of becoming ill. The most common risk factor for C. difficile-associated disease is exposure to antibiotics, especially those with broad-spectrum activity. Although less common, exposure to agents that suppress the immune system may also increase the risk of illness. Advanced age, severe underlying illness, gastrointestinal surgery, use of nasogastric tubes, and gastrointestinal medications (such as gastrointestinal stimulants or antacids) have also been associated with an increased risk of colonization. Most cases are acquired in hospitals or nursing homes, but an increased incidence of community–acquired C. difficile has been reported as well. Recent studies indicate that C. difficile can also be found in food products.  So, is it another bug to worry about in our food?  Visit C. difficile blog.