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Clostridium difficile

Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) is a bacteria that naturally lives in the intestines of about 3-5% of adults without causing any symptoms. When antibiotic treatment destroys a person's good bacteria in the bowel, C. difficile can grow and produce toxins. This may cause symptoms, such as mild to severe diarrhea, fever, loss of appetite and abdominal pain or tenderness.

How does C. difficile spread?

C. difficile bacteria are found in feces. People can get infected if they touch surfaces contaminated with feces and then touch their mouths. Healthcare workers can spread the bacteria to patients if their hands are contaminated.

C.difficile does not typically pose a risk to healthy people. The elderly, immune-compromised people and those who are taking antibiotics are at a greater risk of infection.

How can C. difficile be prevented?

Regular hand hygiene is the most effective way of preventing the spread of any healthcare associated infection (HAI). For more information, please review our hand hygiene page.

For more information on C.difficile and how Runnymede controls the spread of this infection, please refer to our C.difficile brochure.

C.difficile surveillance is ongoing at all Ontario hospitals and reported on a monthly basis to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

C. difficile rates per 1,000 patient days

Month Number of new hospital
acquired cases
Rates per 1,000
patient days
JAN <5 0.32

Month Number of new hospital
acquired cases
Rates per 1,000
patient days
JAN <5 0
FEB <5 0.18
MAR <5 0.17
APR <5 0
MAY <5 0
JUN <5 0
JUL <5 0
AUG <5 0
SEP <5 0
OCT <5 0.16
NOV <5 0
DEC <5 0.16

For more information about how our rates are calculated or to find out more about C. difficile, please contact our infection prevention and control practitioner at 416-762-7316, ext. 2238