Clostridium difficile is a major problem in hospitals across the U.S. According to the CDC, it is estimated that C. difficile caused almost half a million infections in the U.S. in 2011, and approximately 83,000 of the patients who developed C. difficile experienced at least one recurrence and 29,000 died within 30 days of the initial diagnosis. Staggering numbers.
C. difficile is a nasty spore-forming bacteria that produces toxins. The main clinical symptoms of C. difficile infection include watery diarrhea, fever, nausea, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite. More serious infections can result in pseudomembranous colitis, perforations of the colon, and in extreme cases sepsis.
For the reasons cited above, I found this Pharmacy OneSource article quite interesting. According to the OneSource article: “A concise communication recently published in the Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology (ICHE) journal provides effectiveness data on a novel formulation of ethanol used for glove decontamination to prevent Clostridium difficile (spores) hand contamination during glove removal… Test solutions included the novel, sporicidal ethanol formulation (70% ethanol adjusted to pH 1.3 with hydrochloric acid), as well as, 1:10 and 1:100 dilutions of sodium hypochlorite (bleach), and 70% ethanol with no pH adjustment/additives… [the] sporicidal ethanol formulation was effective in rapidly reducing C. difficile spores by approximately two logs, with a further reduction when applied as a wipe.” This was equivalent to 1:100 dilution of bleach solution.
While there are no studies that I’m aware of linking C. difficile infection to pharmacy cleanroom practices, such a novel anti-C. difficile solution has potential wide sweeping application throughout acute care facilities as well as long-term care facilities.
The abstract for the article cited in the OneSource piece can be found here states: “Decontamination of gloves before removal could reduce the risk for contamination of hands of personnel caring for patients with Clostridium difficile infection. We demonstrated that a novel sporicidal formulation of ethanol rapidly reduced C. difficile spores on gloved hands without adverse odor, respiratory irritation, or staining of clothing.” – Infect. Control Hosp. Epidemiol. 37.03 (2015): 337-339.