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Healthcare-associated Infections

Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are a major problem in the medical industry. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 20 hospitalized patients contracts an HAI1.  The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that at any time more than 1.4 million people worldwide are diagnosed with an HAI2.  These infections prolong hospital stays, increase healthcare costs, and result in patient deaths.

Patients can acquire an HAI from exposure to viruses, bacteria, spores, or fungi from contact with contaminated environmental surfaces, healthcare worker’s hands, catheter insertions, and contact with other patients.  Infections in healthcare settings are a growing concern in part because more than 70 percent of bacteria that cause HAIs show resistance to at least one drug commonly used for treatment3. Common HAIs include vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and Clostridium difficile.

Clostridium difficile

Clostridium difficile is among the most common and dangerous HAIs and causes diarrheal illness in patients who are on antibiotic therapy for other infections3. C. difficile is a spore-forming bacterium that can persist outside the body for prolonged periods of time and may be found on bed rails, bed linens, bathroom fixtures and medical equipment. Standard alcohol-based hand cleaning does not kill the organism, so healthcare professionals and visitors must be vigilant in washing their hands to reduce the risk of spreading infection to others4.

Patients with C. difficile infection may present with symptoms that include:

  • Watery or bloody diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain or tenderness

The CDC estimates that 165,000 cases of C. difficile occur annually in the U.S., resulting in $1.3 billion in excess costs and 9,000 deaths. This number has risen during the last 10 years, with the elderly population in nursing homes most affected, although there has also been increased recognition of C. difficile disease in other populations including outside the hospital setting.

Product Highlight

female healthcare worker caring for patient
Simplexa™ C. difficile Universal Direct

A real-time PCR assay intended for the in vitro qualitative direct detection of the toxin B gene (tcdB) of C. difficile. No nucleic extraction required.

The use of Scorpions® probes for human in vitro diagnostic purposes is covered by a license to DiaSorin Molecular LLC from DxS, Ltd. 2. Black Hole Quencher™, CAL Fluor™, Quasar™ dyes are trademarks of Biosearch Technologies, Inc. ('BTI'). Black Hole Quencher, CAL Fluor and Quasar dye technology is licensed pursuant to an agreement with BTI, and these products are sold exclusively for clinical, diagnostic, or research and development purposes.

Sources:
1. http://www.cdc.gov/HAI/burden.html
2. http://www.who.int/csr/resources/publications/whocdscsreph200212.pdf
3. http://www.cdc.gov/hai/
4. http://labtestsonline.org/understanding/analytes/cdiff/tab/testd
5. http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dhqp/pdf/guidelines/Cdiff_tagged.pdf
6. http://www.cdc.gov/HAI/pdfs/toolkits/CDItoolkitwhite_clearance_edits.pdf