Fighting C Difficile Infection during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Dr. Nicola Petrosillo discusses treating C difficile infection and maintaining antimicrobial stewardship during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in Italy.

Nicola Petrosillo, MD, interviewed with Contagion to discuss the 3 major overlapping issues of infection control practices, Clostridium difficile infection (CDI), and COVID-19.

Petrosillo gave a presentation entitled “The Burden of Clostridioides difficile Infection In the COVID-19 Era,” virtually on November 4 during the 9th Annual International C. diff. Conference & Health Expo.

Petrosillo is an infectious disease specialist who was on the frontlines of COVID-19 in Italy; he saw and treated the first 2 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Rome.

Petrosillo earned a Doctorate in Medicine and Surgery from the University “La Sapienza” in Rome, Italy in 1977. A few years later, at the same University, he became a specialist in Infectious Diseases (1981) and in Internal Medicine (1985). He is a member of the Professional Affairs Subcommittee on Infectious Diseases and the Advisory Board of the Trainee Association of ESCMID. Petrosillo is currently the Head Infection Control and Infectious Disease Service at the University Hospital Campus Bio-Medico in Rome, Italy.

In his multi-center study in Italy, Petrosillo found CDI incidence among hospitalized COVID-19 patients was similar to that of the general population the year before (~4 cases per 10000 patient days).

The study identified CDI risk factors, such as hospitalization or the use of antimicrobials. During the peak of the pandemic, doctors were much more concerned with saving the lives of individual patients than controlling antibiotic dispersal, leading to poor antimicrobial stewardship.

Overall, CDI cases decreased during the pandemic, likely due to increased attention to hygiene practices like handwashing. However, Petrosillo noted that some CDI cases may have been overlooked during the pandemic due to some symptoms, such as diarrhea, being dismissed as symptoms of COVID-19.