Home Acquired Infections

September 1, 2016

Stomach Ache Woman on BedHospital acquired infections regularly make the news, but what about “home acquired infections”?

Past research has shown that different tricks work to help prevent different diseases:

-Running a humidifier can help prevent flu transmission
-Keep a distance from anyone with the flu, some strains spread only with close transmission (to animals than human to human).
-When cleaning up after Norovirus, use bleach water and clean several feet beyond what you think you need to or can “see”.
-Pets can be a source of illness, too, bringing in pests like ticks that transmit Lyme Disease
-Uncooked meat and some prepacked meats can spread illnesses like E. coli, Salmonella, and other food borne illness (including parasites).

But here’s another big one that might be circulating in your home: C. diff. While the original infection might be picked up in a hospital (and show symptoms like diarrhea since people who visit hospitals tend to have weakened immune systems and be more likely to have symptoms or a more severe infection), it often spreads to others in the home, too.

In the study, about 13% of patients spread C. diff to others in their home, although most were asymptomatic. But get this, they were able to spread it to pets, too, and it was even more common: over 1 in 4 pets had C. diff! Not only could spreading C. diff lead to symptoms and health complications for others, it creates a potential reservoir for the original patient (with a likely weakened immune system) to become reinfected.

How do you prevent spreading C. diff? Lots of handwashing and some thorough cleaning. It may also help to keep your immune system strong, and bolster your gut with some probiotics.

C. diff isn’t just a silent infection, it can lead to some pretty severe complications, and that’s not even including the spread of a super strain that has been discovered to have the ability to imitate our natural and protective gut flora so it can destroy protective cells. It’s so bad, it kills up to 15% of those infected.

It’s lucky that fighting C. difficile also helps fight a lot of other infections. A little cleaning, handwashing, and immune support goes a long way, not just against C. diff, but flu season and more.

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