Researchers say a nasty, sometimes deadly stomach bug may be at least six times more common than previously thought.
The germ is resistant to some antibiotics and has become a regular menace in hospitals and nursing homes. Doctors say it plays a role in hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations each year, and that number has been growing.
The bacteria (Clostridium difficile) can be deadly, particularly to the elderly, and has been blamed in outbreaks that have killed as many as 100 people at some hospitals. The study shows that more than 7,100 hospital patients are infected with it on any given day.
The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology estimates are based on a survey of hundreds of U.S. hospitals. The findings were presented today at a conference in Orlando.
Recommendations include stepping up bleaching and other cleaning efforts in hospitals and nursing homes, and isolating patients who have the bug.