Isolating Asymptomatic C. diff Carriers at Hospital Admission May Decrease Transmission Interview with:
Yves Longtin, MD, FRCPC
Chair, Infection Prevention and Control Unit
Montreal Jewish General Hospital – SMBD
Associate professor of Medicine, McGill University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Longtin: Clostridium difficile is a major cause of infection in hospitalized patients. Current infection control measures to prevent the spread of C. difficile in hospitals focuses almost entirely on patients who present symptoms. Patients with symptoms of diarrhea due to C difficile are placed under isolation in hospitals (for example, healthcare workers will wear a gown and gloves when caring for them). However, many studies have shown that some patients may be asymptomatic carriers of C. difficile. These patients carry the C difficile bacteria in their digestive tract without being sick. It was known that these asymptomatic carriers could spread the bacteria to other patients, but it was unclear whether putting them into isolation would help prevent the spread of the microbe in hospitals. Our study tested the hypothesis that placing asymptomatic carriers under isolation could lead to a decrease in the number of infections with C  difficile. What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Longtin: Our study suggests that implementing a strategy that consists in the detection and isolation of C difficile carriers on hospital admission can lead to a decrease in the number of C difficile infections that occur in hospitalized patients. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Longtin: Our study will definitely need to be confirmed by additional research. Because our study was conducted in a single center, it will be important to determine whether similar results can be obtained in other settings. Future studies will eventually need to be conducted in multiple centers. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Dr. Longtin: America has been confronted with an epidemic of C difficile infection for nearly a decade, and there is a need to develop new strategies to control this epidemic. Our study suggests that detecting and isolating asymptomatic carriers may be a promising avenue to help control the spread of this bacteria in hospitals. Considering the magnitude of the decrease in the number of C difficile infections that we observed in our study, this avenue is very promising and definitely needs to be further investigated.


  1. Yves Longtin, Bianka Paquet-Bolduc, Rodica Gilca, Christophe Garenc, Elise Fortin, Jean Longtin, Sylvie Trottier, Philippe Gervais, Jean-François Roussy, Simon Lévesque, Debby Ben-David, Isabelle Cloutier, Vivian G. Loo. Effect of Detecting and IsolatingClostridium difficileCarriers at Hospital Admission on the Incidence ofC difficileInfections. JAMA Internal Medicine, 2016; DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.0177

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Last Updated on April 26, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD