The Maricopa County Department of Public Health has discovered a pretty significant outbreak of a bacteria called Clostridium difficile this week. This organism can cause severe diarrheal illness, and is commonly associated with antibiotic use and healthcare facilities. Most people who come into contact with Clostridium difficile do not develop disease. Being on long-term antibiotics can clean out the naturally occurring and helpful bacteria in the intestinal tract. When the person is later exposed to the Clostridium difficile germ, there isn’t much competition- so it has a field day. It also can produce a toxin which damages the upper layers of tissue- creating additional problems.
It’s spread by what we call in the business the “fecal-oral” route- meaning that it’s spread in the feces to another surface4 (i.e. hands) and then to the next person through the mouth- perpetuating the cycle. You can view more on our updated webpage. We’re working with our county public health partners and our licensed facilities to spread the word that this bacteria is circulating in AZ and to make sure everyone knows about the proper control measures.