A common hospital bacterium can mutate into a superbug that causes potentially life-threatening diarrhoea, a Monash University-led study has shown.
A naturally occurring mutation in Clostridium difficile allows the bacterium to colonise the colon after antibiotics (administered to treat infection) have killed off protective bacteria found naturally in the gut. The bacterium can then lead to bowel disease symptoms, including chronic diarrhoea.
Instances of C. difficile infections are increasing throughout the world and the bacteria is affecting groups previously considered not at risk, including children and pregnant women.
Resistant to most antibiotics, the mutated C. difficile is particularly difficult to treat.