Clostridioides difficile (C. difficile) is a spore-forming, anaerobic bacterium that is most commonly known for its role in causing severe and excessive diarrhea, dehydration, and colitis of the large intestine. C. difficile is among the most common hospital-associated infections in the United States and is often linked to extended or recurrent hospital stays and antibiotic use. These factors combined, along with the overall increase in the use of antibiotics in many medical facilities has catapulted C. difficile to the top of the Center for Disease Control’s top priorities list. On top of these susceptibilities, C. difficile forms spores that can withstand typical hospital disinfection protocols and remain in patient rooms for up to five after deposition.
While it has been well-established that hand-to-hand contact between patients and healthcare staff play a role in the transmission of C. difficile throughout hospitals, previous work has failed to accurately predict and model the spread of C. difficile through hospitals by accounting for this movement alone. My research aims to take into account potential fomites within the hospital environment (e.g. floors, counters, charting stations) by combining with high-resolution whole genome sequencing of hospital-sourced C. difficile, patient and staff tracking, and environmental monitoring to develop a new ecophysical model for the deposition and spread of C. difficile.
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