Concord Hospital Performing New Treatment for Aggressive Infection

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Published on October 13, 2015

Concord Hospital Performing New Treatment for Aggressive Infection

Concord Hospital has begun offering a new, relatively easy and inexpensive treatment that almost always stops a stubborn and dangerous infection known for resisting traditional medication.

The treatment, Fecal Microbial Transplantation (FMT), is about 90 percent effective in fighting Clostridium difficile infection or C. diff, which commonly is discovered in hospital patients and nursing home residents being treated with multiple doses of antibiotics. While curing an illness, antibiotics can alter the balance of good and bad bacteria in the colon, allowing C. diff to proliferate, causing severe diarrhea, fever and intense stomach pain.

Nationwide, about 500,000 cases of C. diff are discovered annually, with up to 30,000 deaths. Concord Hospital laboratory identifies approximately 250 cases a year.

“Many people have C. diff germs in their gut," said Lynda Caine, Concord Hospital’s Infection Prevention Officer. “For a normal, healthy person, the good germs control the C. diff. But when antibiotics given to someone who is sick or elderly kills off the good germs, the balance shifts and C.diff can take over.”

With traditional treatment, C.diff often recurs, multiple times. But Caine said FMT, also known as fecal transplants, are very effective, very quickly.

In July, Concord Hospital became the second hospital in New Hampshire to offer the treatment for C. diff patients who have relapsed after traditional treatment. It involves depositing healthy fecal matter, or stool, in a patient’s colon to help restore good germs to control C. diff. Doctors from GI Associates of New Hampshire–Concord Gastroenterology introduce the material through colonoscopy, enema or nasogastric tube.

The stool is purchased from OpenBiome, a non-profit stool bank that performs extensive screening and testing on donors to ensure it is safe to use for transplants.

The treatment typically reverses the aggressive infection within days, not only healing the patient, but helping keep the patient’s family members, caregivers and others at the Hospital at less risk of being infected.

”If we cure the patient, they are not going to be shedding and spreading germs to anyone else,” Caine said. “So I think FMT treatment is going to impact the entire Hospital and our community, by stopping the chronic cases.”

Since July, several patients have received FMT treatment at Concord Hospital and none are experiencing C.diff symptoms.

Practices that help avoid C. diff infections:
While C. diff infections often are discovered in hospital patients or nursing home residents, people may be infected anywhere and carry the bacteria with no complications until they are treated for other illnesses. One way to help avoid contracting the bacteria is to be diligent about washing hands with soap and water, especially after going to the bathroom and before eating.

C. diff can survive outside the body for months, so anyone can come in contact by touching a bathroom doorknob or elevator button, for instance, that had been touched by someone else who didn’t wash their hands after going to bathroom.

In healthy people, C. diff generally is not a problem, but if they are treated with antibiotics for some sort of infection, C. diff can grow.

That’s why not using antibiotics, unless necessary, also is important. Many patients ask for antibiotics to fight a cold. They are not effective, and could place the patient at risk for C. diff infection by potentially upsetting the bacteria balance in the colon.

Media Contact

Public Affairs
Concord Hospital
250 Pleasant St.
Concord, NH 03301
(603) 227-7000, ext. 4215