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Foreign flora for emergencies

IIn their case report, doctors noted intense abdominal pain and persistent "explosive, watery" diarrhea. The patient, a 66-year-old Canadian woman, lost a lot of weight because of diarrhea that had plagued her for months. Laboratory findings confirmed that the woman was suffering from pseudomembranous colitis, a severe inflammatory bowel disease. Prompted by Clostridium difficile infection, a not so rare side effect after antibiotic treatment. The case, however, has attracted attention in professional circles because what the patient saved in 2012 is not a new drug, but a sample of her daughter's and her husband's stool, or the bacteria contained in them.

Such a stool transplant was still considered a therapeutic experiment. In the meantime, it is regularly practiced in US clinics and is increasingly the focus of internists in Germany. Some celebrate it almost as a panacea, others remain suspicious. Now the death of an American after a stool transplantation is exacerbating the debate.

C. researchers differentiate why controversial therapy is needed at all. Clostridium difficile is an oxygen-escaping and ubiquitous microbe. Their highly resistant spores are found in soil and water, but also in the intestines of animals and humans C. It is different. It is usually transmitted fecal-oral, on the other hand spores have already been detected in the air. Specifically, where many weakened people gather in a small area: C. diff is a classic hospital germ. Long-term patients and employees of clinics or nursing homes are especially common. In a small number, Clostridia may pass as part of the normal intestinal flora, they also cause no symptoms. However, the problem becomes such colonization when pathogens spread uncontrollably. They then create toxins that trigger severe diarrhea associated with intestinal inflammation, which can be life-threatening in elderly or debilitated patients.

It all started with dental treatment

Such complications usually occur when antibiotics confuse a complex ecosystem in the gut. These drugs can be used to fight bacterial killers such as plague and cholera. However, antibiotics kill not only the pathogens they are targeting, but also the many trillions of harmless or even beneficial bacteria in the gut. The microbiome usually recovers after a radical cure, but the case of Canada shows that this is not always the case. She was taking antibiotics as part of her dental treatment.