I’m well aware that this topic, Clostridium difficile, is far from sexy and maybe is something you’d rather not ever think about. In spite of that, I’m going to talk a bit about it and the epidemic it has become – and then suggest a way you can help stop it.
In 2011, C. diff caused nearly 500,000 reported infections in the US – a statistic rivaling car accidents and gun violence. That year, 29,000 CDI patients died within 30 days of diagnosis. For those who survived an initial CDI, the infection often recurred at least once in about 1 in 5 patients. And the number of reported C. diff infections has increased each year since 2011.
Clostridium difficile is a spore-forming bacterium that can colonize the human colon, creating a C. difficile infection (CDI) when the array of healthy microorganisms in the gut’s microbiome has become depleted – often from antibiotics, which kill off the gut microbiome’s good bacteria along with the pathogenic ones.
For the past five years, the Peggy Lillis Foundation has been engaged in building a nationwide C. difficile awareness movement by educating the public, empowering advocates, and shaping policy.
My interest in the PLF’s work was spurred by a personal encounter with this dire infection. While on vacation in 2010, I developed symptoms of C. diff (although at the time I had no idea what was causing my acute GI distress). I felt increasingly unwell after returning home, consulted with my health care provider, and was diagnosed with C. diff from a stool sample. Once I had the diagnosis, I did research on how it was treated and learned that heavy duty antibiotics like metronidazole (Flagyl) and vancomycin (Vancocin) were usually prescribed.
Since it had been years of antibiotics that had compromised the healthy bacteria living in my gut, this approach made little sense to me. Instead, my healthcare team and I devised a regimen of nutritional supplements to kill off the pathological C. diff bacteria while at the same time rebuilding a population of probiotic bacteria in my gut microbiome.
So you can see that the mission of the Peggy Lillis Foundation coincides with my own personal interests and goals.
The Peggy Lillis Foundation is a nonprofit devoted to fighting C. diff. through education and advocacy. The work of the PLF is highly regarded – the Centers for Disease Control and several federal Cabinet agencies have partnered with it to implement awareness and prevention strategies.
This past summer I took part in a nationwide Summit of Advocates working with the Peggy Lillis Foundation to build awareness about the C. diff. epidemic. Since only 35% of Americans know about this deadly disease, advocacy on it is very important. Ignorance of C. diff. and failure to recognize its symptoms contribute to deaths from it. Many deaths and much chronic suffering caused by C. diff. can be prevented by greater awareness among consumers, healthcare professionals and policymakers – along with improved cleaning strategies and antibiotic protocols in healthcare settings.
I hope you’ll be willing to make a tax deductible contribution to help the Peggy Lillis Foundation continue to fulfill its mission of working toward a world where C. diff is rare, treatable and survivable.
You can donate by going to the Peggy Lillis Foundation’s home page. There’s a green DONATE button in the upper right corner. Any help you can provide (large or small) will be very much appreciated.
There’s still lots of work to be done.
Joan Rothchild Hardin, PhD
ALLERGIES AND YOUR GUT
For information on C. diff from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, see Clostridium difficile infection.
If you’re interested in reading the article I wrote about the regimen I used to vanquish my C. diff. infection, see Successful holistic treatment of Clostridium difficile gut infection: case study on the Peggy Lillis Foundation site.
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. (2016). Clostridium difficile Infection. See: http://www.cdc.gov/HAI/organisms/cdiff/Cdiff_infect.html
Hardin, J.R. (2011). Successful holistic treatment of Clostridium difficile gut infection: case study. Oriental Medicine Journal, 19:4, 24-37. See: http://peggyfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/C.-difficile-OMJ-article-lo-res.pdf
Peggy Lillis Foundation. (2016). See: http://peggyfoundation.org
© Copyright 2016. Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.
DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.