New superbug behind fatal colon infections

Last Updated: Apr 03, 2011, 00:00 AM IST

Syndey: Australia is in the grip of a new superbug that can cause potentially fatal colon infections, researchers said.

The first case of an epidemic strain of the bug Clostridium difficile (C. difficile), thought to have been acquired in Australia, has been identified at a hospital in Melbourne.

Further clusters have been reported in residential aged care facilities, said Rhonda Stuart of the Monash Medical Centre`s Department of Infectious Diseases, the Medical Journal of Australia reports.

This strain has an increased resistance to antibiotics, increased production of toxins and spores, and causes more morbidity and mortality, according to a Monash statement.

C. difficile infection can cause conditions ranging from mild diarrhoea to toxic megacolon and can be fatal.

The bug releases a powerful toxin that inflames the lining of the colon and makes it bleed, and takes on a characteristic appearance called pseudomembranes.

Since 2000, C. difficile infection rates associated with an epidemic strain (C. difficile ribotype 027) have increased in health care facilities in the US, Canada and Europe.

It is the most common cause of hospital-acquired diarrhoea, and now rivals methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MSRA) as the most common health care-associated infection in the US.

IANS