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Clostridioides difficile infection

Published on 31 May 2021

Clostridioides difficile (also known as Clostridium difficile or C. diff) is a bacterium that can enter the human guts, via contaminated hands or surfaces, and produce toxins leading to diarrhoea and other serious bowel conditions.

Older people and people with compromised immune systems are more vulnerable to Clostridioides difficile infection (CDI), particularly following a course of antibiotics that has disrupted their normal balance of gut bacteria. While CDI is mainly associated with the healthcare setting, there's also a significant impact in the community.

National mandatory CDI surveillance started in 2006 for patients aged 65 years and older then was extended in April 2009 to include all patients from the age of 15 years old. There has been a dramatic decrease in CDI incidence rates in Scotland since 2008, though the disease remains a serious cause of ill health, especially in hospitalised and vulnerable patients.