Risk factorsBy Mayo Clinic staff
The majority of C. difficile cases occur in health care settings, where germs spread easily, antibiotic use is common and people are especially vulnerable to infection. In hospitals and nursing homes, C. difficile spreads mainly on hands from person to person, but also on cart handles, bedrails, bedside tables, toilets, sinks, stethoscopes, thermometers — even telephones and remote controls.
Although people — including children — with no known risk factors have gotten sick from C. difficile, your risk is greatest if you:
- Are now taking or have recently taken antibiotics. The risk goes up if you take broad-spectrum drugs that target a wide range of bacteria, use multiple antibiotics or take antibiotics for a prolonged period.
- Are 65 years of age or older. The risk of becoming infected with C. difficile is 10 times greater for people age 65 and older compared with younger people.
- Are now or have recently been hospitalized, especially for an extended period.
- Live in a nursing home or long term care facility.
- Have a serious underlying illness or a weakened immune system as a result of a medical condition or treatment (such as chemotherapy).
- Have had abdominal surgery or a gastrointestinal procedure.
- Have a colon disease such as inflammatory bowel disease or colorectal cancer.
- Have had a previous C. difficile infection.
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