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June 26, 2006

Scientists Learn How Hospital Bug Evades Attack

Topics: Medicine

Clostridium.jpgScientists say that they have decoded the genetic make-up of Clostridium difficile, a bacterium responsible for many hospital-acquired infections, (nosocomial infections) and shown why it is so difficult to control:

Researchers found it can chop and change its genetic structure very easily - maximising its ability to neutralise attack by antibiotics.

More than 10% of the genome consists of mobile elements - sequences that can move from one organism to another - and this is how it has acquired genes that make it such an effective pathogen.

It has gained an array of genes that make it resist antibiotics, help it to interact with, and thrive in, the human gut and help it to change its surface.

Clostridium difficile is a gram-positive, spore-forming rod that is responsible for 15 to 20 percent of antibiotic-related cases of diarrhea and nearly all cases of pseudomembranous colitis. Each year, C. difficile infection results in approximately 3 million cases of diarrhea and colitis in the United States. The case mortality rate is approximately 1 to 2.5 percent.

Posted by Richard at June 26, 2006 6:00 AM

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