Researchers at the University of Rocheter Medical Center are heading local trials of a vaccine aimed at fighting a common hospital infection that attacks patients' intestinal linings.
The bacterium is called "C.diff," short for Clostridium difficile. You're already carrying it around in your gut, and you'll never know it unless you happen to be put on a long-term course of antibiotics during a hospital stay. Prolonged antibiotic treatment kills a lot of the patient's normal intestinal flora. And sometimes, that lets the hard-to-kill C.diff run wild. It produces a toxin that attacks a patient's intestinal lining. The resulting diarrhea can be life-threatening and keeps people in the hospital longer than should be necessary.
Doctor John Treanor -- Chief of the URMC's Infectious Disease Division -- said doctors tried a different tack. Since the bacterium doesn't respond to antibiotics, why not make patients immune to the toxin? Sanofi Pasteur has the first such vaccine ready to be tried in 200 hospitals around the world, including Strong Memorial Hospital. If it works in real hospital conditions as well as it does in the lab, it could help prevent as many as 14,000 C.diff deaths a year.
The URMC is looking for volunteers. They should be 50 or older and planning an upcoming surgery that will require at least a 72 hour hospital stay.
Information is at www.Cdiffense.org.