Nosocomial infections with Clostridium difficile present a considerable problem despite numerous attempts by health care workers to reduce risk of transmission.
Asymptomatic carriers of Clostridium difficile can spread their infection to other patients.
Dr Thomas Blixt and colleagues from Denmark investigated the effects of asymptomatic carriers on nosocomial Clostridium difficile infections.
The research team performed a population-based prospective cohort study at 2 university hospitals in Denmark, screening all patients for toxigenic Clostridium difficile in the intestine upon admittance, from 2012, to 2013.
Screening results were blinded to patients, staff, and researchers.
|Clostridium difficile infection was detected in 5% of patients exposed to asymptomatic carriers|
Patients were followed during their hospital stay by daily registration of wards, and patient rooms.
The team's primary outcomes were rate of Clostridium difficile infection in exposed and unexposed patients and factors associated with transmission.
The researchers detected Clostridium difficile infection in 3% of patients not exposed to carriers and in 5% of patients exposed to asymptomatic carriers at the ward level.
The team observed that the amount of exposure correlated with risk of Clostridium difficile infection, from 2% in the lowest quartile to 4% in the highest quartile of exposed patients.
Combining the load of exposure to carriers and length of stay seemed to have an additive effect on the risk of contracting Clostridium difficile.
Dr Blixt's team concludes, "In a population-based prospective cohort study in Denmark, we found that asymptomatic carriers of toxigenic Clostridium difficile in hospitals increase risk of infection in other patients."