What is C. diff?
Clostridium difficile (C. diff) is a bacterium that can cause symptoms ranging from diarrhea to life-threatening inflammation of the colon and is typically spread through hand contact, as well as contaminated surfaces (as C. diff can live for long periods of time on surfaces). C. diff is known as one of the leading hospital acquired infections, affecting around 500,000 people in the U.S. each year (and as many as 30,000 fatalities annually), with the elderly, immunosuppressed, those undergoing antibiotic therapy, and those hospitalized or in long term care facilities being the most at risk. However, the risk of acquiring a C. diff infection (or CDI) has increased in the community and has been found in outpatient settings.
C. diff and Antibiotic Usage
Antibiotics cause a disruption in the normal flora of the intestines – destroying “good germs” that protect against infection for several months, which creates prime conditions for bacteria like C. diff to flourish. The leading antibiotics known to disrupt intestinal flora are (though not limited to) Ampicillin, Amoxicillin, Cephalosporin, Clindamycin, and the broad spectrum antibiotics. In November 2012, the CDC began sharing a public announcement regarding antibiotic use, stating that colds and many ear and sinus infections are caused by viruses, not bacteria, and taking antibiotics to treat a virus can make those drugs less effective when you need them most. Its estimated that as many as one third of antibiotic prescriptions in the U.S. are unnecessary, and increased awareness and limitations on antibiotic usage can help reduce new CDI cases, as well as other antibiotic resistant infections.
Seal Shield and the C Diff Foundation
Seal Shield is pleased to support the C Diff Foundation, as we are all in this fight of preventing infections together. Antimicrobial Resistance, the ability of a microorganism to stop an antimicrobial (such as antibiotics) from working against it is a very real problem in modern day society. The use and misuse of antibiotics over the past years has increased the number and types of resistant organisms and consequently, many infectious diseases may one day become uncontrollable (For more information on antimicrobial resistance, see our blog series).
The C Diff Foundation was founded in 2012 by Nancy Caralla, a nurse with over 25 years of experience and multiple first- and second-hand experiences with CDIs.
With November being “Raising C. diff Awareness Month” and the CDC’s “Get Smart About Antibiotics Week” (11/14-20th), the C Diff Foundation’s Inaugural Tampa Bay Community Casual Dinner Dance was the perfect time to catch up with our friend Nancy Caralla support her in her efforts to end C. diff!
The Sunset Casual Dinner Dance
The 1st Annual Casual Dinner Dance was held on Friday, November 4th, 2016 at the Spartan Manor in New Port Richey, FL and served as a time for physicians, survivors, supporters, and companies like Seal Shield to get together, get informed, and make progress on ending this harmful infection while having some fun!
After a warm welcome from Nancy herself, Dr. Ernest DiGiovanni, DO, who specializes in Gastroenterology with practices at both Trinity and Hudson Florida gave us a full background of the “Who, What, and Where” of C. diff – both refreshing the knowledge of those in the industry, and educating those that aren’t. Dr. Elbert Barnes, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Medical Center of Trinity stepped up to cover the topic of the increase of C. diff within the community and how to prevent it, citing that 75% of the C. diff cases seen at his practice come from the community. His prevention tips (outside of regular, proper hand-washing which is the #1 factor in infection prevention) included avoiding inappropriate antibiotic prescriptions, not taking antibiotics prescribed to others, avoiding overuse of acid suppressors (such as Prilosec), staying current on your vaccines (including the flu vaccine), and if you notice C. diff symptoms (which include diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, and fatigue) – seeing your doctor as soon as possible. He also stated that research has shown that probiotics can be helpful for prevention.
Our Marketing Communications Manager, Karen Cyr, was able to catch up with Nancy Caralla later on in the evening to learn even more about her story and personal commitment to this cause:
What prompted your passion to get involved with preventing hospital acquired infections, C. diff in particular?
“Healthcare professionals have an instilled passion for medical science and patient safety. We incorporate infection prevention on a daily basis to promote good health and wellness. With that being said, I have been a Nurse for over 25 years and have cared for many patients with multiple diagnosis who have also acquired additional illnesses during an inpatient stay. In 2004 I witnessed my father, who was being treated for Sepsis (Septic Shock) in the ICU develop one HAI after another. He passed away in the ICU after 45 days of care with multiple infections including the original diagnosis of Sepsis; C. difficile, VRE, Bacterial Pneumonia, MRSA, and more.
In 2008 I was working at a community hospital in a transitional care unit -- post-op patients receiving rehabilitation preparing to discharge to home. At that time 2 colleagues and I were diagnosed with C. difficile infections, however; it took over 3 months to receive a definitive diagnosis. We were diagnosed and treated for gastritis, intestinal viruses, food poisoning, and even IBS. However, the symptoms did not stop and only worsened as time went on. My colleagues were treated with one round of oral medication and recovered fairly quickly. I, on the other hand, remained ill and the illness progressed. During the year of 2008 into 2009 I was assessed and treated by 14 physicians specializing in gastroenterology. The treatments were sporadically successful and the recurrent CDIs were ongoing.
In 2009 I was transferred to a major teaching university hospital over 300 miles east of my residency and assessed and treated by one more GI physician who utilized a medication that was being clinically trialed to treat C. difficile infections. In 10 days I was improving and the positive results without recurrent CDI remained. It took 2 years to recover from this extremely exhausting extended infection.
In 2011 I finally felt well enough to return to Nursing and on the third month of employment those familiar symptoms were creeping back. I thought, "No, it can't be!" A trip to the PCP and a CDI test and yes - positive PCR test for an entirely new C. diff infection. Let's just say that this started in 2011 and there were 9 recurrences and in October of 2012 was the last negative test and a promise to organize and develop a mission through a non-profit Foundation to educate and advocate for C. difficile infection prevention, treatments, and environmental safety worldwide. That is how the C Diff Foundation came to fruition on November 1st, 2012.”
What do you feel is the biggest challenge in infection prevention?
“Communication, and consistency -- to truly have collaboration between disciplines and across the continuum of care. It takes every aspect - from technology, therapy, and practice to eradicate all healthcare-associated infections.
Another challenge that exists is, "Just because you don't see it doesn't mean it isn't there -- germs." From patients to professionals we cannot stress it enough to "wash your hands." Hand-washing remains the number one infection prevention worldwide.”
What is the best way for someone to get involved with your organization?
If you are in the healthcare field:
“Send us an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (919) 201-1512 and request to join fellow healthcare volunteers within the C Diff Foundation. Join fellow healthcare professionals in C. diff. prevention/support/environmental safety presentations, educating and listening to patients, families, and clinicians from villages to cities worldwide.”
If you are not in the healthcare field:
“Send us an e-mail to email@example.com or call us at (919) 201-1512 and request to join the C Diff Foundation Volunteer Patient Advocate Program. Share the printed literature and raise awareness in C. diff. prevention, treatments, support, and environmental safety to drive down the rates of C. diff. infections worldwide.”
You can also find the C Diff Foundation on Facebook and Twitter.
How Seal Shield Products Can Help Fight C.diff
Seal Shield has effectively positioned itself as the infection control specialist, serving as the leading developer of medical keyboards and medical mice that are both waterproof and antimicrobial, as well as medical screen protectors with Antimicrobial Product Protection for surgical monitors, touch screens, computers and tablets that can withstand medical-grade disinfectants. Seal Shield also offers a line of UV Disinfection and Management products, designed to keep up with the growing needs of mobile device disinfection within healthcare as facilities adopt higher use of electronic health record technology and mobile devices.
Seal Shield is passionately committed to ending hospital acquired infections and fighting antibiotic resistance, as evidenced through our mission – Prevent Infections and Save Lives – our product line, and each member of our team’s passion behind their work.