C-diff is Airborne

C- diff is short for Clostridium difficile.  C-diff is a bacterium that exists in our environment along with many other bacteria.c-diff  Most often C-diff does not cause illness because our bodies have the right balance of bacteria to digest food and fight unwanted microbes, however if we become ill or in a weakened condition we are more susceptible to different bacteria and viruses taking over our bodies.  A major concern among doctors, hospital staff, and patients is nosocomial (hospital acquired) infections.

 “The rapid evolution of bacteria and the excessive use of antibiotics have turned our hospitals from institutions of healing to incubators of new breeds of superbugs” says the Department of Microbiology at Monash University in Australia.

Dr. Dena Lyras is a renowned Microbiologist from the Monash University in Australia that has done extensive research on C-diff.   She states, "It was not known to cause problems before antibiotics, but the introduction of antibiotics changed things and it found a new niche to occupy. As a consequence it has become a significant problem in hospitals worldwide.1

Unfortunately scientists have indicated antibiotics have increased the virulence of C-diff and many other bacteria in our environment. 



Another discovery about C-diff is that it is airborne.  The study cited in the Oxford Journals of Clinical Infectious Diseases Volume 50 issue 11 pages 1450 to 1457, verified research done in a hospital “…from the surfaces around 9 of the patients; 60% of patients had both air and surface environments that were positive for C. difficile.”2   The report indicated isolation of infected patient would help reduce the spread of C-diff to other patients nearby but with airflow, movement by staff and patients, along with air circulation from vents it could disseminate the c-diff spores into the air even further.   The study concluded, “Molecular characterization confirmed an epidemiological link between airborne dispersal, environmental contamination, and CDI cases.”

C-diff is a spore producing bacterium that manufactures toxins causing diarrhea and damages the lining of the colon. C-diff is found in the gut of a very small number of adults and causes them no harm. Problems arise when the patient has been using antibiotics that kill bacteria but may not kill C-diff bacteria in turn allowing it to flourish in the gut resulting in damage to the lining of the colon. C-diff infection can result in death if not carefully monitored and proper medication prescribed.  Even when the best of care has been given sometimes patients that continue in a weakened condition may not recover. 

It is essential that medical staff wash their hands with soap and water when coming in contact with a patient or any item used in the patients care with C-diff.  Alcohol based gels do not kill C-diff.3 Proper air purification and filtration can significantly reduce the dissemination of C-diff spores, along with frequent, careful, surface cleaning and sanitation. Airborne bacteria, spores, mold, and viruses can be destroyed by photocatalytic oxidation, as available from www.zandair.com


  1. http://www.monash.edu.au/research/profiles/profile.html?sid=1022&pid=2858#summary_hidden
  2. http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/50/11/1450.full
  3. http://katrenawells.suite101.com/alcohol-based-hand-sanitizer-not-effective-against-c-difficile-a228515

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