We’re continuing our series of blogs looking in more detail at our infection control service. This time in the spotlight is a nasty bacteria known as C. Diff (or Clostridium difficile to give it its full name). As with many bacteria, there is evidence that certain strains of C. Diff are becoming resistant to antibiotics. Therefore, preventing the ‘superbug’ bacteria spreading is always going to be more effective than treating people who have become infected. We’re going to take a closer look at what the bug does, before outlining how we can help organisations stop it spreading.
What happens when your gut bacteria go bad
As with Norovirus, which we looked at in an earlier blog, C. Diff is another stomach bug that can spread easily to others. But it’s an infection which most commonly affects people recently treated with antibiotics. Therefore, it’s a particular problem in healthcare and social care settings and is often categorised as a hospital-acquired infection.
C. diff bacteria are found in the digestive system of about 1 in every 30 healthy adults. The bacteria often live harmlessly because other bacteria normally found in the bowel keep it under control. But some antibiotics taken to treat other infections can interfere with the balance of bacteria in the bowel. This can cause the C. diff bacteria to multiply and produce toxins that make the person ill. Its symptoms include diarrhoea, nausea, stomach cramps, loss of appetite and fever. In severe cases, it can cause more serious damage to the bowel.
C. diff can spread easily to other people because the bacteria are passed out of the body in the person's diarrhoea. Once out of the body, the bacteria turn into resistant cells called spores. Unless they're thoroughly cleaned, these spores can survive for long periods on hands, surfaces (such as toilets), objects and clothing. And that’s when they can transfer to someone else and infect them if they get into their mouth.
Keeping infections under control
There is very specific advice from the NHS about C. Diff and the importance of tackling it in healthcare settings. Online advice recommends anyone who has been infected with C. Diff stays at home until at least 48 hours after their symptoms have cleared up, as that’s when they're most infectious. In hospitals, patients may be isolated until well after symptoms have stopped.
General health and safety advice about cleaning and infection control is available on the UK’s Health & Safety Executive (HSE) website. There are some clear steps that can limit the risks associated with C. Diff spreading:
Promote a general culture of safety, including not reporting to work if sick, to demonstrate that you care about worker health and safety protections in the workplace.
Encourage workers to practise good hand hygiene, by washing with hot water and soap (as C. Diff spores are resistant to alcohol).
Guarantee availability of washrooms and handwashing supplies.
Perform routine workplace housekeeping.
Ensure that surfaces, where C. Diff may linger, are cleaned and disinfected.
Infection control moves beyond superficial cleaning
It’s this last area that we focus on at React Specialist Cleaning. Tackling bacteria such as C. Diff requires an approach to cleaning that goes beyond superficial cleaning. The React Infection Control Service focuses specifically on ensuring that all surfaces are cleaned and disinfected. We use appropriately diluted products which are effective but safe; generally, hypochlorite-based solutions are best for tackling C. Diff.
We follow strict infection control protocols to ensure complete disinfection. In healthcare settings where C. Diff may be found more frequently, we focus our infection control efforts on surgical areas such as operating theatres and post-operative care facilities. In care homes, we’ll also protect residents from the risk of contracting C. Diff through shared washrooms and laundry facilities in particular.
We always encourage clients to make sure they have a good approach to hygiene. This includes making sure that employees don’t come to work if they’re sick, or that patients and service users report if they become ill. We follow our own advice too, and ensure that all our workers are fit and well when they attend each and every cleaning assignment. Quite simply, we control infections and eliminate pathogens wherever we work.
To find out more about how our Infection Control Service can limit the risks associated with C. Diff, contact one of the team today.
Post by Shaun D. Doak
Shaun is the Managing Director of React Specialist Cleaning. He is deeply committed to making sure that every one of our company’s clients receives the highest possible level of service. An expert in HVAC and commercial and industrial cleaning methodologies, Shaun has extensive experience in the facilities management and renewable services sectors.