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Is a C. Diff vaccine around the corner?

Date Added: January 05, 2009 10:07:59 AM
Author: Nick Jervis
Category: Business & Economy
Clostridium Difficle (or C. Diff, as it is commonly called) is a bacterium that causes diarrhoea, particularly in those with a weakened immune system. C. Diff infection is usually acquired in hospitals, and almost all those who develop diarrhoea caused by C. Diff are taking, or have been recently been given, antibiotic therapy. The irony is that, in the past, prolonged antibiotic therapy was used to treat C. Diff, which didn't actually stop the spread of the infection. Now, though, things may be about to change. The British biotech company Acambis, have recently conducted trials of a new vaccine that could offer a preventative answer and stop the spread of a 'superbug' that kills more people than MRSA. Trials at around 30 hospitals with high incidences of C. Diff infection will be carried out to see if the vaccine prevents the diarrhoea caused by the bug from returning. Patients known to have suffered from C. Diff will be given the jab and if the trials are successful, further, large scale trials will be carried out before the vaccine is cleared for general use. The elderly are particularly vulnerable to infection, so if the trials are successful, a campaign much like the flu vaccination programme could be introduced. A course of about three injections could provide long- erm protection against infection, with a booster shot every 10 years reinforcing the preventative measures of the initial vaccine. C. Diff is similar to MRSA. It is a bacterium that produces spores, which survive in the environment for a long time. Most commonly found around toilet areas and on floors, C. Diff can easily be combated by thorough cleaning regimes. However once it establishes a base, it can easily spread by direct contact between patients. Because it only normally attacks people whose immune systems are weakened and are taking antibiotics, hospital staff (unless they are taking antibiotics themselves) does not suffer the symptoms of the bacteria, but may act as unintentional carriers of the spores. This is why cleanliness is so important in hospitals to prevent the spread of the bug. As with MRSA, the prevention of C. Diff is reasonably straightforward. However, if a hospital has been less than thorough in their hygiene regimes and consequently an outbreak of C. Diff has caused patients to suffer, there is potentially a case for medical negligence. If it can be proven that the hospital has failed in its duty of care obligations, and there is evidence that staff have not taken every precaution to prevent the spread of the bug, a claim can be brought against the hospital for medical negligence. Medical negligence cases are notoriously difficult and complex, with a great deal of stringent legislation surrounding the issue. If you feel that you have been directly affected by C. Diff and that it could have been prevented, then talking to a solicitor with experience of medical negligence may be an option. All solicitors dealing with medical negligence cases have to be experienced in the field, as the implications (not just for the claimant, but for the hospital too) can have far reaching consequences. By bringing a case to light, the hospital can use that information to improve standards to prevent more cases from happening. Hopefully, if the trials of the C. Diff vaccine prove successful, we could see the beginning of the end of this particular superbug. 1stclaims is run by a non-practising Personal Injury Solicitor with over 14 years personal injury claims experience.For further information, please visit http://www.1stclaims.co.uk
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