HealthDay News — Asymptomatic carriers of toxigenic Clostridium difficile in hospitals increase infection risk in other patients, according to a study published in the April issue of Gastroenterology.

Thomas Blixt, M.D., from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, and colleagues screened all patients for toxigenic C. difficile in the intestine upon hospital admission (from Oct. 1, 2012, to Jan. 31, 2013) to assess the rate of C. difficile infection in exposed and unexposed patients, as well as transmission factors.

The researchers found that C. difficile infection was detected in 2.6 percent of patients not exposed to carriers and in 4.6 percent of patients exposed to asymptomatic carriers at the ward level (odds ratio for infection if exposed to carrier, 1.79). There was a correlation between amount of exposure and risk of infection, from 2.2 percent in the lowest quartile to 4.2 percent in the highest quartile of exposed patients (P = 0.026). There was an additive effect on the risk of contracting C. difficile when load of exposure to carriers and length of stay were combined.

“In a population-based prospective cohort study in Denmark, we found that asymptomatic carriers of toxigenic C. difficile in hospitals increase risk of infection in other patients,” the authors write.

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