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Clostridium difficile Infection at Local Elementary School

FEB 25, 2016 | SARAH ANWAR
The student was diagnosed with Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) on February 7, 2016 at Liberty Elementary School of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. The school issued a statement addressing the matter.

CDI has received a lot of attention recently since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has branded the superbug an urgent threat, and has advised individuals to take the necessary precautions to prevent infection.

CDI is highly contagious through contact with surfaces, objects, or body parts contaminated with human feces. An individual can contract the infection by unknowingly ingesting the bacteria. The CDC states that although some individuals may carry a CDI germ, they may remain asymptomatic due to the beneficial bacteria of the microbiome in their guts which cause CDI bacteria to become dormant. With the use of long term antibiotics, however, these germ-fighting-bacteria die off, leaving the host susceptible to infection.

Symptoms associated with CDI include:  
  • Watery diarrhea (at least three times a day for two or more days)
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain or tenderness
It is crucial that individuals experiencing these symptoms seek professional diagnosis and treatment.

Working in conjunction with the health department of Oklahoma, executives at Liberty Elementary School took cautionary steps to guarantee the school is now infection free. The CDC advises that to prevent an outbreak where an infected patient resides, it is vital to not only disinfect all surfaces with hypochlorite-based cleaners, but to also disinfect all devices used by the individual. Prior to the school’s reopening on Monday, February 8, all restrooms, common areas, and the classroom previously inhabited by the infected student, were sterilized. The student will not be returning to school until he/she is symptom-free.

The CDC advises that after coming in contact with CDI patients, individuals wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water (even with the use of gloves), since most alcohol-based hand rubs do not effectively kill off C. diff spores. As a result, Liberty Elementary warned all parents to be on the lookout for symptoms of CDI in their own children, further advising them to keep their child home if they are infected.  In addition, the school instructed parents to review proper handwashing methods with their children, as an extra precaution to prevent future illnesses.

Liberty Elementary school did not release any indication of the severity of the student’s case. The school assured the public that any risk of initial infection was very low, however, necessary steps were taken to prevent future outbreaks.
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