biohazardous cleaning technicians cleaning up after a c diff exposureDo you know anything about Clostridium difficile? If not, then you should. This pathogen alone infected half a million Americans in a single year. Because of this fact, businesses should be diligent in preventing a C. Diff contamination.

What is C. Diff? Clostridium difficile (abbreviated as C. Diff) is a pathogen that can survive without oxygen. It’s highly infectious and can last on surfaces for as long as three months. C. Diff can also contaminate food.

What if you get a C. Diff infection? You can expect to show symptoms such as diarrhea. In some, C. Diff can cause colitis (colon inflammation) and this pathogen can be deadly for those who are older than 65 and have compromised immune systems.

Here’s how to mitigate the risks of a C. Diff contamination to ensure that you and others stay safe.

Where Does C. Diff Thrive and How Does One Get Infected?

You’ll mainly find C. Diff at hospitals and other healthcare facilities, though you can find C. Diff just about anywhere. Since C. Diff doesn’t require oxygen, it thrives in a variety of places. This includes the air, soil, water, and hard surfaces.

One of the most common ways that C. Diff is spread is through feces. C. Diff thrives in our feces; if you use the bathroom and don’t wash your hands, you risk the virus living on your hands. From here, you can transfer the virus to surfaces you touch, such as doorknobs, tables, clothing, and more.

Since C. Diff thrives in different places, you can also ingest it internally. This is the case when people consume contaminated food or water.

How Long Do C. Diff Germs Live?

C. Diff has two different forms: active and inactive. When the virus is outside of the body, it’s inactive. However, its spores are still alive. The virus has a protective coating around the spores, allowing the virus to live for several months.

C. Diff doesn’t become active until it reaches the intestines. When the virus is in the body, it can live for a couple of weeks. Healthy people will likely not show any symptoms, though people with certain risk factors may require antibiotics to rid the infection.

How to Prevent C. Diff

The best way to prevent a C. Diff infection is by washing your hands and disinfecting surfaces. This is essential for both homes and businesses. Here’s how to clean C. Diff.

Wash Your Hands

Diff thrives the most in fecal matter. That’s why washing your hands frequently, especially after using the bathroom, is the best way to prevent a C. Diff contamination. Since you can also get an infection by eating and drinking contaminated food, it’s important to wash your hands before you cook and eat.

Wash your hands with both soap and water. Make sure you wash your hands for at least 20 seconds and try and wash as much as you can — including the tops of your hands, your fingers, and under your fingernails.

Healthcare Settings

You’ll also mainly find C. Diff thriving in healthcare settings, specifically on surfaces. That’s why medical businesses need to be diligent about disinfecting their surroundings.

First, all medical staff needs to wash and disinfect their hands frequently. Wash your hands before and after dealing with a patient. Wear gloves and a mask whenever necessary. Since the virus can live on clothing, be sure to wash your gowns frequently.

Be sure to clean surfaces on a regular basis, especially surfaces where patients frequent. The best defense against C. Diff is bleach or any disinfectant that can kill spores.

Nursing Homes

Since seniors are at a high risk of developing complications from the virus, nursing home workers need to also be diligent about hygiene and cleaning.

A lot of the advice mentioned previously applies to nursing homes. For example, staff and residents should wash their hands frequently with soap and water. Hand sanitizer is ineffective against C. Diff, so it’s integral you wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Wash your hands before and after you eat as well as before and after contact with a resident.

Cleaning frequently touched surfaces, such as tables, chairs, and doorknobs, it’s also of utmost importance. Use a hospital-grade disinfectant to clean these surfaces. It’s also important to clean walkers, wheelchairs, and other devices that residents use.

Proper washing and drying of clothing and bedsheets will also stop the spread of C. Diff. Be sure you do laundry frequently and that residents always wear clean clothes and sleep on fresh sheets.

Restaurants

In addition to the advice mentioned previously, restaurants should clean tables, chairs, and kitchen appliances with disinfectants. A bleach-based disinfectant is the best option, though there are commercial disinfectants made specifically for kitchens.

Other Businesses

All businesses, no matter what industry you’re in, should be equally diligent in preventing a C. Diff contamination. In addition to hand washing, clean your surfaces on a regular basis. A simple soap and water solution is ideal if you can’t get ahold of commercial bleach-based cleaning products.

The Home

C. Diff can spread easily and may even be found in your home. Washing your hands and cleaning are the best defenses.

You can easily make your own bleach solution at home by mixing one part bleach and nine parts water in a bucket. If you have a sensitivity to bleach, wipe down surfaces with soap and water on a regular basis.

If other people live in your house, try and get everyone to use different bathrooms. That may not be possible, so be sure to wash down high-touch areas of the bathroom and the entire house. These include:

  • Doorknobs and handles
  • Cups and silverware
  • Seats and tables
  • All over the toilet, including the toilet handle

Since C. Diff can live on fabric, you’ll want to do laundry frequently. You’ll especially want to wash these products on a regular basis:

  • Towels
  • Bedsheets
  • Clothing
  • Other household linens, such as tablecloths

In addition to hand washing, be sure to scrub your whole body with soap when you’re in the shower.

When to Call a Professional for a C. Diff Contamination

Are you showing C. Diff symptoms? Is there a C. Diff contamination in your home or workplace? If so, it may be time to call a professional to decontaminate your property. We offer disinfecting and decontamination services for residential and commercial clients. Click here to learn more about our services.

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