The superbug Clostridium difficile (C.diff) may be evolving to spread in hospitals, research suggests. Scientists from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine discovered the bacteria, which can cause diarrhoea, is gradually 'splitting' into two species. The new bug spreads easily, is 'immune' to disinfectants and thrives on the Western diet of sugary foods, they found.
It is thought to have emerged thousands of years ago and may be responsible for more than two-thirds (70 per cent) of the C.diff infections in hospitals today. The researchers hope understanding how C.diff adapts to 'changes in human lifestyles' will lead to better infection control.
'Our large-scale genetic analysis allowed us to discover that C. difficile is forming a new species with one group specialised to spread in hospital environments,' co-lead author Dr Nitin Kumar said.
'This emerging species has existed for thousands of years, but this is the first time anyone has studied C. difficile genomes in this way to identify it.
'This particular bacteria was primed to take advantage of modern healthcare practices and human diets, before hospitals even existed.' MORE