Rate of C. difficile infection increasing dramatically in children

New statistics indicate the number of people—particularly children—who contract the bacterial infection Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) has increased dramatically over the past few years.

Mayo Clinic researchers found the incidence of C. difficile infection in children was more than 12 times higher between 2004 and 2009, compared to the rates between 1991 and 1997.  The number of infections rose from 2.6 cases per every 100,000 children to 32.6 cases per 100,000 in the selected time periods.

C. difficile is a common bacterium found in the environment, especially in hospitals, that is hard to control and treat.  Approximately 337,000 cases are diagnosed each year, causing 14,000 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Common symptoms include watery diarrhea two or more times a day for several days, as well as abdominal cramping and tenderness.  More severe cases can cause inflammation of the colon, fever, blood in the stool, nausea, dehydration and weight loss.