Press Release

March 7, 2012


State Public Health Department Launches Campaign to Fight Deadly “C.diff” Diarrhea Germ

Statewide effort to eliminate spread of bacteria
common in healthcare facilities

CHICAGO – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today is kicking off a statewide education campaign on preventing the spread of Clostridium difficile, also known as C.diff, a sometimes-fatal bacterium that causes symptoms ranging from diarrhea to life-threatening inflammation of the colon and intestines.

The Illinois Campaign to Eliminate C.difficile (ICE C.diff) will implement programming to educate hospital workers and health care personnel on preventing the spread of C.diff. Illinois was one of 15 states funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to implement programming for C. diff prevention.

According to the CDC, C.diff infections are linked to 14,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. Deaths linked to C.diff increased 400 percent between 2000 and 2007, due in part to a stronger germ strain. In Illinois, the number of C.diff infections among discharges from hospitals more than doubled between 1999 and 2010, from 7,082 to 16,262.

“Although the rising number of C.diff infections is alarming, it’s important to remember that it is preventable,” said Dr. Arthur Kohrman, IDPH Acting Director. “Through greater awareness and education of both health care providers and patients, we can significantly reduce the incidence of C.diff infections.”

C.diff is commonly spread from person-to-person via contaminated surfaces or the unwashed hands of healthcare personnel, patients and visitors. The most dangerous source of spread to others is patients with diarrhea.

As part of this campaign, IDPH is partnering with IFMC-IL, the state quality improvement organization, to host a series of educational webinars for healthcare workers on C.diff beginning March 13th, and three upcoming regional workshops for teams of healthcare workers in the Chicago area, Central Illinois, and Southern Illinois. IDPH has also invited hospitals and long-term care facilities to register for ICE C. diff. As of March 6th, 137 facilities statewide have signed up.

IDPH encourages healthcare consumers to play a role in fighting the spread of C.diff by knowing risk factors, symptoms and ways to prevent the infection, including:

  • Wash your hands after using the bathroom.
  • Take antibiotics only as prescribed by your doctor. Antibiotics can be lifesaving medicines.
  • Tell your doctor if you have been on antibiotics and get diarrhea within a few months.
Try to use a separate bathroom if you have diarrhea, or be sure the bathroom is cleaned well if someone with diarrhea has used it.

idph online home
idph online home

Illinois Department of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
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