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Clostridium difficile loves sugar and resists disinfectant

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

superbug loves sugar resists disinfectant

Story at-a-glance -

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 15,000 die every year from Clostridium difficile, a bacterium that may trigger watery diarrhea, fever, dehydration and kidney failure. It is evolving to a superbug, and has adapted to sugars commonly found in a Western diet. It also produces spores capable of resisting disinfectants
  • Antibiotics are what has turned this minor player, accounting for up to 3% of bacteria in normal flora, to a major health concern; when antibiotics disrupt the normal flora, harmful bacteria such as C. diff are able to thrive and spread in the environment
  • Although fecal transplants are new to Western medicine, they were reportedly being used as far back as 1,700 years ago. Colonoscopies have been the most successful means of using the treatment, but they come with risks; one study compared administration using capsules or colonoscopy and found a 96.2% prevention of recurrence in both groups
  • Fecal transplants should only be done by a trained team as the donor stool must be free of disease; even under investigational conditions lethal mistakes have been made
  • Handwashing is the single most effective means of preventing the spread of infection and reducing your risk of needing antibiotics. Hand washing supports a strong gut microbiome, which is another means of prevention

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls antibiotic resistance one of the biggest public health challenges of our time. Conservative estimates find at least 2 million are infected and 23,000 die each year with antibiotic resistant bacteria. When a germ develops the ability to withstand drugs designed to kill them, they become antibiotic-resistant and are called superbugs.

Antibiotic resistance happens naturally as bacteria adapt to drugs. Resistance is helped along by the inappropriate use of medications, such as antibiotics for viral infections and their use in agriculture. The World Health Organization warns emerging resistance to antibiotics threatens the ability to treat common infections that may result in prolonged illness, disability and death.


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