January 31, 2012

I was sent the video below today, which was produced by Dr. Michael Greger, the director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture for The Humane Society of the United States. Since our founding, The Peggy Lillis Memorial Foundation has been raising awareness of clostridium difficile and the danger it presents to the public and we have primarily focused on people becoming infected in hospitals and the community.

Dr. Greger’s video shines the light on a new avenue where the public can acquire C. diff: Supermarket meat. I urge you to watch the video and share it with your networks.

  1. 42% of sample supermarket meat contained toxigenic C. diff bacteria. In May 2009, a join study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the University of Arizona tested cooked and uncooked meat purchased at supermarkets. They found that 42% of the meat tested contained the bacteria, indicating that meat consumption may play a role in inter-species transmission of C. diff. The riskiest meat was ground turkey.
  2. The timeline between consuming C. diff infected meat and becoming symptomatic could be years. C. diff is a very hearty bacteria that can live virtually undetected in your gut. Usually, though not always, the good bacteria in our guts keeps the C. diff in check. But taking certain antibiotics, some chemotherapy treatments and illnesses of the immune system such as HIV and multiple sclerosis can cause an imbalance in your gastrointestinal immunity allowing the C. diff to run rampant. C. diff infections can lead to life threatening conditions, including pseudomembraneous colitis and toxic megacolon.
  3. Recommended cooking temperatures and times may not kill C. diff. Because it is a spore, C. diff can survive for up to two hours at the recommended internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit (71 degrees Celsius).
  4. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers to do not killĀ  C. diff. As you’re out and shopping, you may touch uncooked meat and trying to be safe, use a hand sanitizer. But studies have repeatedly shown that alcohol based hand sanitizers do not kill C. diff. Only hand washing will remove the bacteria.
  5. C. diff may be spread by a simple handshake. As we get ready for Superbowl Sunday, many Americans will be grilling. It’s important to keep in mind that C. diff from contaminated meat can be spread by a warm handshake, if you’re not washing your hands thoroughly.

So what can we do? The best defense against C. diff is washing your hands thoroughly, particularly if you’re been in a healthcare facility or are handling meat. Beyond that, being informed about the risk factors for C. diff such as antibiotics usage – so you can get treatment right away if you display C. diff symptoms – are key. Finally, we must ask more of the FDA and other regulatory agencies that are responsible for keeping our food supply safe.

Watch Dr. Gergen’s video:


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  1. Marjorie Fischl says:

    I had C-diff and it was very hard to diagnose and even harder to cure. It took the best part of a year to get rid of and I suffered from lack of potassium and very nearly died on two occasions. This is a deadly thing and serious. Need to wash hands and be aware when taking antibiotice is imperative to notice any symptoms such as constant diarrhea etc.. Seriously no fun.

    1. Todd says:

      Once you have c-diff you CANNOT be cured. You will always carry the spores. The treatments are to nock it down far enough that your own immune system can keep it in check. Once antibiotics are taken the bacteria turns to a spore. So far only chlorine and extreme heat can kill the spores.

  2. David T. L'Heureux says:

    Thank you for posting this video and highlighting the important action/talking points. Since being a victim of C-Diff and subsequent toxic megacolon; leaving me with a total colectomy and a sub-total small bowel resection with permanant high-output illeostomy, I have found that healthcare workers (including my own physician and physicians on consult) are not aware of this starin of C-Diff and it has been hard explaining it to them. This video definately gives me educational material to help everyone who I am in contact with understand what I have experienced. I have also posted it for my friends and family, who have been wonderfully supportive but do not understand what I have and why I am so sick, to understand it better in simple, easy termonology and AV work.

    Thank you for helping me educate others



  3. kara says:

    My aunt died from c-dipp and.mrsa combined we had hospice and all of.this could have been prevented. My aunt also had the ilostomy bag, feeding tube, and catherer. She had two surgeries for bowel obstructions. She was 93 when she passed away. She would have never had to have the illostomy in the first place if he doctor on call in the emergency room followed her primary care doctors order for a scan of the stomach and intetestines. Cat scan that is. Instead he decided to send her home and less than 48 hours she was having bowel obstruction surgery. The emergency room doctor thought it was GERD

  4. G. Small says:

    In March of 2010, I underwent a bilateral mastectomy for ductal carcinoma in situ. I was 76 years old. My postoperative recovery went smoothly and in December of that year, I visited a periodontist for treatment of a dental abscess and was given clindamycin for residual infection. Very shortly thereafter, I developed severe diarrhea. I was unable to get a prompt appointment with my family physician, so I visited the ER where a culture was taken. Several days elapsed (after the culture was taken, proving Clostridium difficile) before I could be seen by my physician and receive a prescription. I was given metronidazole, and subsequently relapsed. Next, I was prescribed vancomycin (at $2,000/course). Shortly after finishing the 10-day course of the drug, I again relapsed. A second course of vancomycin (and another $2,000), and then a third relapse. Finally, referred to a gastroenterologist, I was given a THIRD course of vancomycin (yet another $2,000) and told to to take a probiotic (daily) and to eat yogurt with active cultures; I was also told to “sanitize,” i.e. wipe down (repeatedly) every surface in my house that I might have touched (door frames, door knobs, phones, remote controls, faucets, computer keyboard, etc.) with a 25% solution of bleach:water (the first time I had received any information at all about sanitizing). All this time (about 7 months) I had been on the BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast) diet (plus my yogurt). It is now slightly more than a year later, and I am only now beginning to recover any of my usual energy and able to eat a careful, but more-or-less normal diet. I still sanitize. In the meantime, I had the offending tooth surgically removed and, thanks to my oral surgeon’s consulting with the gastroenterologist (concerning which antibiotics to avoid [absolutely avoid clindamycin!]), had no ill effects from the 10 days of antibiotics (doxycycline) I was required to take following the oral surgery. I feel grateful to be alive. I very much favor the activist approach toward helping other C. difficile patients, both actual and prospective, and am constructing a one-page handout I hope to persuade the physicians in our small-town clinic to provide to C. difficile sufferers (thus putting all I have learned into one succinct document). I am especially concerned that hand sanitizer dispensers have been installed in our clinic examining rooms and that health care workers (including physicians) are using hand sanitizer instead of soap/water hand washing, prior to examining patients. Whenever I am seen as a patient, I ask the physician to do a soap/water hand-wash, but I rather imagine few patients do that, and that the health professionals generally take the quicker route of using the hand sanitizer. I have been shocked at how little information my family practitioners gave me and believe a well-informed patient is a safer patient. I gleaned most of my information (aside from that provided by my gastroenterologist) on the internet, and I am well aware not everyone has that option. This illness made my bilateral mastectomy surgery and subsequent recovery seem like a cake-walk; I have never been so ill in my life — and am grateful to be alive.

  5. linda says:

    i work as a RN & see medicaid clients. every other person is infected with C difficile. I believe its the proton inhibitors-anti-acids is the cause. 80% or our immunity is in our gut, so this cycle of infection, antibiotics, infection again. the only winners are the pharmaceuticals

  6. Maria says:

    I have just been diagnosed with c diff.lm a 47 years old health care assistant.l had a small procedure done 11days earlier and was finished 2days earlier taking antibiotics. I was very sick .The weakness was so bad .l could not stand for any longer than 3 mins .my doctor diagnosed me straight away and next day results proved she was right . I’m worried about my immunity as l was so overweight and have only lost weight last year through dieting .

  7. Albert Hill says:

    Linda’s observation about proton-pump inhibitors and other antacid meds, years before proven accuracy! Kudos ! …would do well to change my diet and meds ! Those turkeys [ literal and pharmas ] getting us coming and going ! Al Hill