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CDC Report: C. diff Infections Associated with 29,000 Deaths per Year in US; Vaccines Could Provide Solution

March 17, 2015
Last month, the CDC released a new study on the impact of microbial super bug Clostridium difficile (C. diff) with some very disturbing findings. The study found that 29,000 deaths in the U.S. were associated with the bug in 2011, and nearly half a million Americans suffered infections. About half of those deaths, or 15,000, were estimated to be directly attributable to the infection. Elderly patients are most vulnerable to C. diff infections, with over 80 percent of the associated deaths occurring in those aged 65 years or older.

According to the CDC, previous studies have shown that C. diff is now the most common microbial cause of healthcare-associated infections in U.S. hospitals, costing up to $4.8 billion annual in excess health care costs at acute care facilities.

Several drug companies, including Pfizer and Sanofi, are working on vaccines that could prevent C. diff infections. Late last year, Dermatology Times reported on a promising vaccine candidate that could help protect against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), another super-bug commonly acquired in healthcare settings.

Many other infectious diseases are now preventable with vaccines, including Hepatitis A & B, pneumococcal disease, and cervical cancer caused by HPV. In fact, according to CDC data, 10 infectious diseases have been at least 90 percent eradicated in the U.S. thanks to vaccines.

According to a 2013 report from PhRMA, there are currently nearly 300 vaccines in development, 137 of which have the potential combat infectious diseases. View the report here.