Clostridium difficile is truly a monstrous pathogen.
Clostridium difficile (C. diff) is a tough little rod-shaped bacteria that prefers to grow in the oxygen depleted environment of our bowels. Its cousins in the Clostridium genus include botulism; while it C. diff not quite as deadly as botulism, they have some mechanisms for mayhem in common. C. diff can produce a toxin in our bodies if it flourishes and grows out of hand. That toxin causes severe diarrhea and bowel damage, potentially leading to bowel removal or death.
Normally, C. diff would remain in very small numbers in our guts with little to no effect, as all the other billions of gut bacteria outcompete C. diff and keep it at bay. Once we introduce broad-spectrum antibiotics (often to treat another infection, or prior to a surgery), those other healthy gut bacteria die, allowing C. diff to flourish and cause severe illness. When a patient has a C. diff infection, we consider them highly contagious.
To add to its problematic nature, C. diff is very difficult to kill in the environment. In the presence of oxygen it transitions into a spore-forming mode—much like a plant under stress that ‘goes to seed’ to help itself survive and spread—and those spores are extremely durable, lasting for 4 to 6 months on surfaces.
The recommended way to eliminate C. diff spores is highly concentrated bleach. However, that relies on human application to every surface and some significant elbow grease as well asPathogens a 3-10-minute “dwell time” (time the bleach must be on the surface). Xenex Robots kill C. diff spores in 5 minutes, 2 meters from the bulb in all directions. Our broad spectrum UV light is able to damage the spores in 4 different ways. Recent studies have demonstrated that on average, about 50% of high-touch surfaces are cleaned. Even after cleaning, it was found 71% of VRE occupied rooms and 78% of C. diff occupied rooms still tested positive for VRE or C. diff. Even after four rounds of disinfection with disinfectants, 25% of rooms were still contaminated with MRSA and Acinetobacter.
Sources: Carling PC. Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology. 29(1), 1-7. Eckstein BC. BMC Infectious Diseases, 7, 61. doi: 1471-2334-7-61. Manian F. ICHE, 32(7), 67-72.
Another facility, Cooley Dickinson Hospital, reported a 53% drop in their facility’s C. diff infections after using Xenex.
Xenex is the only technology with Peer Reviewed Published Outcome studies showing greater than 50% reductions in both MRSA and C. diff. No other UV technology has even a single Published Peer Reviewed Outcome Study showing any reduction in infection rates.
Rachael Sparks leads the Account Management Team at Xenex Disinfection Services and was previously a transplant specialist working with hospitals throughout Texas.