Together We Can Tackle the Threat of C. difficile

By CEO James Appleby, BSPharm, MPH
June 14, 2021

GSA has teamed-up with several other organizations to address the challenges presented by the bacterium Clostridioides difficile — or C. difficile as it’s commonly abbreviated. Over the past year, I have had the privilege of representing GSA on the Steering Committee of the C. difficile Awareness Initiative, which was formed in response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention deeming this infectious disease an urgent public health threat.

The coalition that launched the initiative is a group of experts representing a cross-section of healthcare professionals and patient organizations representing those impacted by C. Difficile. I’m proud to be a part of it because it’s taking an interdisciplinary approach just as GSA is known for doing. With support from Pfizer Inc., the initiative comprises representatives not only from the infectious disease community but also nursing, pharmacy, geriatric medicine, veterans’ medical care professionals, and the patient advocacy community.

Our goal is to enlist allies across multiple disciplines to support the initiative’s educational efforts and encourage them to make C. difficile awareness a priority for the communities they represent. Specifically, the group is working to raise awareness that:

  • C. difficile bacteria can be anywhere and persistent
  • C. difficile infection is unpredictable and can occur in anyone, particularly adults
  • C. difficile infection can be a debilitating disease

C. difficile is known for causing severe diarrhea and colitis; it’s estimated that there are nearly half a million infections in the U.S. each year. About one in six patients who get C. Difficile will get it again in the subsequent two to eight weeks. And one in 11 people over age 65 diagnosed with a health care-associated C. Difficile infection will die within one month.

I invite GSA members to join us as we spread awareness. The Steering Committee recently released a report titled “Clostridioides difficile: A Public Health Threat in Plain Sight.” It illustrates that we will need a collective response to stop the spread this serious infectious disease. A new consumer-oriented website providing educational resources is now available at www.difficulttoc.com. And a podcast series supporting the initiative, Conversations about C. difficile — Presented by Pfizer, is available on all major podcast platforms.

Steps you can take now to help include:

  • Educate relevant healthcare allies about C. difficile so they recognize the seriousness of the problem.
  • Enlist these allies to help drive awareness among healthcare professionals with a connection to C. difficile.
  • Work collaboratively and across disciplines to rally the public to become more knowledgeable.
  • Alert colleagues to the availability of the resources described here.

C. Difficile is an underrecognized issue that has significant negative impact on older adults. I invite you to join me in raising awareness of C. Difficile with colleagues, partners, and the public.