How To Manage an Outbreak of C. difficile

Clostridium Difficile Infections (CDIs) are among the most common hospital acquired infections.

In this post we’ll discuss what C. difficile is and how it spreads. We’ll then explore how robust cleaning protocols and procedures can help you manage a C. diff outbreak.

What is C. difficile?

Clostridium difficile is a type of bacteria which usually lives harmlessly in your bowels. However, certain antibiotic treatments can change the balance of bacteria in the gut, which can trigger a C. difficile infection.

Symptoms of C. difficile Infection

Common symptoms of a C. difficile infection include:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Stomach ache
  • Nausea
  • High temperatures

How is C. diff Transmitted?

As one of the main symptoms of C. diff is diarrhoea, C. diff infections can spread quickly. When outside the body, the C. diff bacteria can turn into spores which are capable of surviving for long periods on hands, surfaces, objects, clothing, and linen.

Without regular washing and cleaning, it’s all too easy for these spores to transmit from a surface to a person’s mouth, which could result in an infection. For example, a person might touch a surface containing C. diff spores with their hand. They might then, without thinking, wipe their mouth with their hand.

Read our full guide to how communicable diseases spread.

What Places are Most At Risk of a C. diff Outbreak?

Any healthcare setting where patients or residents share facilities is particularly at risk of a C. diff outbreak.

This might include:

  • Care homes
  • GP clinics
  • Hospital wards
  • Dental surgeries

Who is Most At Risk of a C. diff Infection?

As well as people taking certain antibiotic treatments, people aged 65 or over are particularly at risk of C. difficile infections.

How to Manage a C. diff Outbreak

A person with a C. diff infection may carry an infection risk until 48 hours after their symptoms have passed. So ideally, anyone with a C. diff infection should stay at home until at least 48 hours after their symptoms have cleared up. Though in a healthcare setting such as a care home or a hospital, this might not be possible.

As a result, only stringent cleaning procedures and protocols can help prevent and control C. diff outbreaks:

  • Practice good hand hygiene. Staff should adopt the appropriate hand washing technique, and commit to washing their hands at certain key moments – such as before and after touching patients or their surroundings. You should also provide patients and residents with appropriate hand sanitiser so that they too can practice effective hand hygiene.
  • Clean the care environment as often as possible. Your cleaning procedures should already ensure you’re carrying out thorough cleaning at least once a day. But your cleaning procedures should intensify in the event of an outbreak, paying particular attention to any surfaces that people might touch, such as toilets, light-switches, and door handles.
  • Wash any contaminated clothes and sheets as soon as possible, and separately from other washing.
  • Advise visitors to take extra precautions – or to avoid visiting completely – for the duration of the outbreak.

Read our full guide to managing outbreaks in care homes.

How We Can Help You Manage a C. diff Outbreak

We stock an advanced range of highly effective cleaning and containment products that will help you prevent and control C. diff and other infections in your care setting.

Our range includes:

  • Virusolve+ WipesA one-step solution, all-in-one cleaner, sanitiser, and disinfectant that can kill C diff bacteria on surfaces in as little as 5 minutes. It then creates a residual barrier that can help prevent infection for up to 7 days. You can use them on any surface, including carpets, upholstery, and mattresses. Also available as a trigger spray and a concentrate.
  • VirusanAntimicrobial hand sanitiser and hand scrub capable of removing up to 99.999% of the most common germs in less than a minute, designed to eliminate the risk of cross-infection from hand transfer within 30 seconds of application. Also available as a gel.

We also stock hospital-grade air purifiers. In the event of a C. diff outbreak, they can quickly and effectively catch and kill airborne spores, completely cycling the air in a room in as little as 12.5 minutes.

For more information about how we can help you manage C. diff outbreaks in your care setting, call us on 0333 015 4345 or email