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New drug may halt spread of killer hospital bug

A new antibiotic could help stem the spread of a notorious hospital bug by preventing recurrent infections, new research suggests.

Almost 27,000 cases of the Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infection were reported in the UK last year. In 2010, C. diff caused 2,704 deaths.

The bug, spread by poor personal hygiene, mostly afflicts people with weakened immune systems and is a significant problem in hospitals and nursing homes.

Up to a quarter of patients affected by C. diff infection (CDI) become re-infected within a month of being treated.

The new drug, fidaxomicin, works as well against C. diff as the ‘gold standard’ treatment vancomycin, the study showed.

But compared with vancomycin, it more than halved the rate of recurrent infection from 26.9% to 12.7%.

Commenting on the findings published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, microbiologist Professor Robert Masterton said: “Sadly, CDI remains a common problem in modern clinical practice.

“This new treatment, fidaxomicin, offers a major step forward in combating the impact of this disease.”

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