I made a flying visit to HIS today in Liverpool to have a debate with Prof Mark Wilcox on whether or not antibiotics are the most important factor in healthcare-associated C. difficile infection. Mark was arguing for the motion, and I was arguing against it. And the result…well you’ll have to read to the bottom!
Curtis Donskey’s group recently published a multicentre randomised trial in 16 US hospitals to evaluate the impact of an enhanced cleaning programme (including fluoruescent markers, environmental cultures, and feedback to cleaners) on the transmission of C. difficile. The intervention resulted in an increase in the removal of fluorescent markers, a reduction in environmental contamination with C. difficile, but no reduction in healthcare-associated CDI!
A fantastic NEJM study by Mark Wilcox et al. brings monoclonal antibodies* to the party in preventing recurrent C. difficile infection. In this hugely impressive RCT (well, two squashed together actually), patients who received bezlotoxumab (a monoclonal antibody against C. difficile toxin B) were significantly less likely to suffer recurrent CDI (17% for bezlotoxumab vs 27% for placebo).
A new Lancet ID study suggests that restriction of fluoroquinolone usage has been the main driver of the national reduction in C. difficile infection in England. This paper is challenging in terms of some of the accepted approaches to controlling the transmission of C. difficile: if it’s all about reducing fluoroquinolones (and antimicrobials in general) and nothing to do with these measures, then why invest so much time and energy in isolation of symptomatic cases, cleaning and disinfection etc?
A fascinating new JAMA Internal Medicine study suggests that being admitted to a room when the prior occupant had taken antibiotics increases the risk of the subsequent occupant of the same room developing C. difficile infection (CDI). Quite a few convincing epi studies have showed that admission to a room when the prior occupant was known to have a number of key pathogens (including C. difficile) increased the chance of acquisition for the subsequent occupant. But this study extends the ‘prior room occupancy’ concept into a new dimension!
C. difficile infection is a disease of dysbiosis – the most common pathology is that antibacterial agents disturb the balance of micro-organisms in the gut leaving C. difficle the ecological space to produce toxin and cause diseases. So, could it be that ‘probiotics’ could fill the ecological space and reduce the risk of CDI? Despite numerous trials, the jury is out!
This study has just been published in the Journal of Hopsital Infection, showing that the introduction of hydrogen peroxide vapour (HPV) for the terminal disinfection of rooms vacated by patients with CDI was assocaited with a significant reduction in the rate of CDI, from 1.0 to 0.4 cases per 1000 patient days.