A bacterial infection with emerging antibiotic resistant strains is increasing nationwide, particularly in in- patient health care settings.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates approximately 500,000 infections caused by Clostridium difficile occur in hospitals across the country each year, and infection rates are on the rise.
So far, Top of Utah hospitals aren't seeing an increase in the infection like the rest of the nation.
"We are seeing approximately the same amount as usual. However, we do anticipate more will be diagnosed as testing increases," said Jeanette Smyth, Ogden Regional Medical Center infection control director.
Both Chris Dallin, public relations director at McKay-Dee Hospital, and Lora Kier, public relations director at Davis Hospital and Medical Center, said their facilities have not seen an increase.
"We actually have lower rates than the rest of the nation right now," Dallin said. "We are very careful about washing our hands. Each of our rooms has a sink, and we also have (hand sanitizer) by every door."
About 28,000 people die from the condition yearly, up from 15,000 deaths in 2007. The infection also is taking longer to resolve, and many patients are experiencing multiple relapses.
The infection, also known as C-diff, causes symptoms ranging from watery diarrhea to life-threatening inflammation of the colon, Smyth said. It most commonly affects older adults in health care settings, those with compromised immune systems, such as cancer patients, and through improper use of antibiotics.
However, the CDC reports that otherwise healthy people of all ages are increasingly becoming ill with the super bug.
Ironically, the infection is treated with antibiotics, although the bug is showing increasing resistance to many of them.
"Infected people can spread the disease by touching items or surfaces with hands or other body parts contaminated with feces or by touching the mucus membranes in the mouth," said Smyth. "It can be spread virtually anywhere by touching."
Health officials said the best way to prevent the infection is by thorough hand washing with soap and water for at least 15 seconds. Also, wash before and after eating and using the restroom. Clean household surfaces regularly with a bleach-based cleaner. Hand sanitizers are not effective because spores produced by the bug are not killed off by them.
Smyth also said it's important to limit use of antibiotics and use them only if they are absolutely necessary.