Illnesses and infections
- C. difficile (Clostridium difficile)
- Colds in children
- Common infections and your child
- Croup (laryngitis)
- Dehydration and diarrhea in children: Prevention and treatment
- Ear infections
- Febrile seizures
- Fever and temperature taking
- Fifth disease (Erythema Infectiosum)
- Hand, foot and mouth disease
- Head lice
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Influenza in children
- Meningococcal disease
- Pertussis (Whooping cough)
- Pinkeye (Conjunctivitis)
- Pneumococcal infections
- RSV (Respiratory syncytial virus)
- Strep throat
- Urinary tract infections
Tests and treatments
- A parent’s guide to the participation of children and teens in medical education
- Fever and temperature taking
- Health research in children: What parents need to know
- How to make sure antibiotics are the right choice
- Making treatment decisions for babies, children and teens
- Natural health products and children
- Planning care for children and youth with serious medical conditions
- Reducing the danger of infection for children with spleen problems
- Testing for HIV during pregnancy
- Using over-the-counter drugs to treat cold symptoms
- When your child needs a red blood cell transfusion
Vaccines for children and youth
C. difficile (Clostridium difficile)
- C. difficile bacteria often cause diarrhea that can spread from one person to another.
- If your child has mild diarrhea with no blood, treatment is likely not needed.
- Make sure that everyone in your house washes their hands with soap and water.
What is C. difficile?
C. difficile organisms are bacteria found in the environment — in soil, air, water, human and animal feces, and contaminated food products, such as processed meats. It causes mild to severe diarrhea.
C. difficile bacteria often cause diarrhea that can spread from one person to another, especially in hospitals.
How does C. difficile spread?
C. difficile bacteria are passed in feces and can spread to food, surfaces and objects when people who have the bacteria don't wash their hands thoroughly after using the bathroom. The bacteria can survive on surfaces and objects for weeks or even months. If you touch a surface contaminated with C. difficile, you can get the bacteria on your hands and become infected. When you are infected, you have C. difficile in your bowel and in your feces.
Some infected people get diarrhea and others do not. People who get diarrhea from C. difficile are usually those who have been on antibiotics recently. This happens because antibiotics can kill other bacteria in the bowel and allow C. difficile to grow quickly.
What are the symptoms of C. difficile?
While some children and adults carry the bacteria in their large intestine without any symptoms, others may have:
How can I protect my child?
Make sure that everyone in your house washes their hands with soap and water after changing a diaper or using the toilet, and before preparing and eating food.
What happens after my child is diagnosed with C. difficile?
If your child has mild diarrhea with no blood, treatment is likely not needed and your child will get better on his own.
If your child has bloody diarrhea or more that 4 stools per day, the doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics. If you child seems very ill, the doctor may even admit her to hospital.
When should I call the doctor?
Even if your child hasn’t been diagnosed with C. difficile, call your doctor if he:
- is vomiting and showing any sign of dehydration, such as
- no tears when crying,
- dry skin, mouth and tongue,
- no or less urine (pee) (fewer than 4 wet diapers in 24 hours),
- has a fever and is less than 6 months old or has had a fever for more than 72 hours,
- has severe stomach pain,
- has severe diarrhea, or
- has bloody or black stools.
Reviewed by the following CPS committees:
Infectious Diseases and Immunization Committee
Last Updated: January 2014