Researchers from the Institute of Food Research based in Colney, have discovered a new virus that could prove beneficial for diarrhoea sufferers. It is primarily being looked at as a potential treatment for Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections. So, what is the new virus and how might it help?
Below, you’ll discover more about this latest research, as well as learn more about C. diff infections.
What is the new virus and how could it help?
The new virus has been given the name Colneyvirus, after the location of where it was discovered. It is a type of virus known as a bacteriophage. This means it attacks bacteria. In their research, the scientists discovered that it could help to fight C. diff infections, without causing any damage to the body’s microbiome.
Additional research will need to be carried out to determine whether it is effective at fighting C. diff infections. However, the researchers are hopeful that it could be used to treat the condition in the future.
Understanding Clostridium difficile infections
Clostridium difficile is a kind of bacteria that can cause the bowels to become infected. This leads to diarrhoea, alongside other unpleasant symptoms such as a fever, and loss of appetite.
The bacteria are naturally present within the digestive system in many healthy adults. It is typically managed by other bacteria but taking antibiotics can cause the bacteria levels to become unbalanced. It can be passed to other people and live on hands and surfaces for a long period of time.
If left untreated, a C. diff infection can lead to serious complications. If you have severe diarrhoea, it can cause dehydration which in turn can be deadly.
Those who have recently taken antibiotics have underlying conditions, and those with a weak immune system are most at risk of developing the infection.
How are C. diff infections diagnosed and treated?
If you have a mild C. diff infection, it should be able to be treated at home. However, in many cases, hospital treatment is required.
The main treatment options include:
- Halting the antibiotics responsible for the infection
- Taking antibiotics specifically to fight the bacteria
- Surgery to remove part of the bowel
In minor cases, stopping taking the antibiotics responsible for the infection could be all that is needed. However, most patients end up taking antibiotics specifically to fight the bacteria for a period of 10-14 days.
In severe cases, you may need to undergo surgery to remove a small, damaged part of the bowel. The procedure is known as bowel resection.
If you have been suffering from a C. diff infection, Mr Woodward can carry out diagnostic tests. If bowel surgery is needed, he can advise you of the best one to suit your circumstances. If you need further advice, book a consultation with Mr Woodward.