What Causes C. difficile Infection?

Every year, around 200,000 to half a million people in the United States become infected with C. difficile. However, the numbers have decreased in recent years because of increased prevention methods.
C. difficile enters your body through your mouth. The organism can multiply in the small intestine, and when it reaches the colon, tissue-damaging toxins are produced. The toxin causes cell damage, resulting in areas of inflammation and cell damage leading to watery diarrhea.

When a person is treated with antibiotics, “good bacteria” are also eliminated, making it easier for the Clostridioides difficile to find a niche. C. difficile can form spores that persist in the environment and are resistant to many of the usual disinfectants. Contaminated surfaces can result in the bacteria spreading to other people.

Infections can also spread through healthcare environments including surfaces such as bathroom fixtures, bed rails, rectal thermometers, and toilets. The germ has a high survival rate on surfaces. The bacteria may thrive in a variety of environments, including:

  • Soil
  • Unwashed hands
  • Water
  • Food, including meat
  • Surfaces area on an object
  • Human or animal feces

Carrier State

Some people have Clostridioides difficile bacteria in their intestines but never get sick. This is considered a carrier state. Carriers can infect by shedding spores into the environment which subsequently can be ingested.

Carrier states can occur in patients that have had C. difficile infection and they have been on a course of antibiotics to treat the infection. After their symptoms have passed, stool samples can still test positive even if they feel better. This is considered post-convalescent C. difficile carrier state. The person can still pass C. difficile to others even though they are not experiencing symptoms any longer.

Signs and Symptoms

Common Signs & Symptoms Include:

  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Watery diarrhea

1. Dehydration

Severe diarrhea can result in electrolyte and fluid loss in the body. This will result in or cause your body to fail to work correctly; it may also result in a drop in blood pressure, which is hazardous to your health.

2. Kidney Failure

If dehydration goes untreated, the kidneys can progress into a state of kidney failure. That is why it is so important to stay hydrated and to seek proper medical attention in the case of a C. difficile infection.

3. Toxic Megacolon

This is an uncommon condition resulting in severe dilation of the colon (megacolon). Your colon may rupture if not recognized and treated promptly

For a more comprehensive overview of c. diff symptoms, please see C. difficile Infection Symptoms: An Overview.

Prevention of C. difficile

Avoid Unnecessary Use of Antibiotics

This is the most important modifiable risk factor for C. difficile infection. While antibiotics are often necessary, it is important to limit the use and the duration of antibiotics to that which is effective to treat the underlying indication.

Avoid Direct Contact

If you are in contact with a person who is suffering from CDI, wash your hands. In health care settings we utilize disposable gloves and isolation gowns to prevent spread of spores to others.


Practicing proper hand hygiene is critical before and after contact with a C. difficile patient, whether you are the patient or a healthcare professional. Note that alcohol-based hand sanitizers do not efficiently remove C. difficile, use soap and water.

Treatment Options

Existing C. difficile treatment options are not completely effective, and recurrence rates range from 15-30%. The team at Crestone, Inc. is dedicated to finding a better solution. CRS3123 is a small molecule protein synthesis inhibitor that targets Clostridioides difficile by acting on the target methionyl-tRNA synthetase (MetRS).

CRS3123 offers potential advantages compared to currently available CDI therapies. CRS3123 utilizes a novel mechanism of action and it is highly potent against all isolates of C. difficile tested to date.