Anatomy of C. Difficile

Clostridium difficile is a spore-forming, gram-positive bacterium that can cause disease when ingested. 

By | June 2, 2011

Infographic: Anatomy of C. Difficile
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Clostridium difficile is a spore-forming, gram-positive bacterium that can cause disease when ingested. While stomach acids kill most of the bacteria, the spores can withstand the harsh gastric environment, passing through to the intestines where they germinate and latch onto the epithelial cells lining the gut. Once attached, the bacteria produce toxins that attack the colon lining, causing abdominal pain and diarrhea. A newly emerged hypervirulent strain of C. difficile produces robust amounts of toxins, and a greater percentage of the hypervirulent bacteria produce spores, increasing the bacterial load in the bowel of the patient as well as the number of spores that pass into the environment, where they can be spread to other individuals. The hypervirulent C. difficile strain also produces stickier surface-layer proteins, which enhance the bacterium’s ability to attach to gut and environmental surfaces, making it more difficult to kill with traditional treatments.

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