C. diff rates doubled between 1996 and 2003. With the incidence and severity of C. diff infection rising throughout the United States in the last 10 – 20 years, determining the actual prevalence of the disease has become a priority for public health officials and researchers.
People are most often infected in hospitals, nursing homes, or other long-term care institutions, though C. diff infection in the community is increasing. The best and most recent estimates include:
- 3,000,000 Americans become infected during stay in a health care facility each year
- 20,000 Americans become infected in community settings each year
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 30,000 people die every year from C. diff infection. 9,000 from the hospital acquired onset, 3,000 from hospital acquired, post-discharge onset, and 16,500 from nursing home-acquired disease.
The rate of C. diff acquisition is estimated to be 13% in patients with hospital stays of up to 2 weeks, and 50% in those with hospital stays longer than 4 weeks.
Of those infected 25,000 – 75,000 (1% to 2.5% of all cases) will die, and 250,000 to 300,000 (10% of all cases) will suffer from severe or complicated disease, including pseudomembraneous colitis (infection of the large intestine (colon) with an overgrowth of C. diff bacteria), sepsis, shock, and toxic megacolon.
Sources: Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology’s 2008 National Prevalence Study of Clostridium difficile in U.S. Healthcare Facilities, November 11, 2008; “The Growing Incidence and Severity of Clostridium difficile Infection in Inpatient and Outpatient Settings”, Expert Review of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, August 25, 2010.