Multidrug Resistant Organisms (MDROs) and Clostridium difficile (C. diff): Information for Outpatients

This information describes multidrug resistant organisms (MDROs) and Clostridium difficile (C. diff), including how they are spread and how infections are treated in the outpatient setting.

What is a multidrug resistant organism (MDRO)?

A multidrug resistant organism (MDRO) is a germ that is resistant to many antibiotics. If a germ is resistant to an antibiotic, it means that certain drug treatments will not work.

Examples of MDROs are:

  • Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
  • Vancomycin resistant Enterococcus (VRE)

These germs can cause a variety of illnesses, including:

  • Urinary tract infections
  • Pneumonia
  • Blood infections
  • Wound infections

Infections caused by MDROs can be more difficult to treat, since there are fewer antibiotics that work to treat them.

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What is Clostridium difficile?

Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, is another germ that is resistant to many antibiotics and difficult to treat. C. diff can cause diarrhea and colitis. Colitis is an inflammation of the large intestine (bowel).

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What is the difference between being colonized and being infected with an MDRO or C. diff?

A person can be either colonized or infected with an MDRO or C. diff. If a person is colonized, it means that the germ is present on their skin or in a body opening, but they have no signs of illness. If a person is infected, it means that the germ is present on their skin or in a body opening and it is causing illness.

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Who is at risk for an MDRO or C. diff infection?

Healthy people are not at high risk for getting infections. Infections occur more often in people who have received antibiotics in the past and have many hospital and doctor visits.

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How are these germs spread?

Most MDRO infections are spread by direct contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids (blood, drainage from a wound, urine, stool, or sputum).

C. diff infections are spread by direct contact with an infected person’s stool (feces).

Both MDRO and C. diff infections can also be spread by contact with equipment or surfaces that have been contaminated with the germs.

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Can these germs be spread by touching?

No. Casual contact such as touching or hugging does not spread MDRO or C. diff infections.

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What should I do if I have an MDRO or C. diff infection?

  • Take the medication your doctor prescribes. Take it for as long as the doctor tells you. Do not stop taking your medication, even if you are feeling better.
  • Clean your hands often. Always clean your hands after having contact with blood, urine, or wound drainage. If you have a C. diff infection, wash your hands with soap and water rather than using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Ask the people you live with to clean their hands often.
  • Use a disinfectant such as Clorox® or Lysol® to wipe any surface that may have been contaminated with the germs. Common places that may have been contaminated with the germs are your bathroom, countertops, and faucets.
  • Do not share personal items, such as washcloths, bars of soap, razors, or clothes.
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Where can I get more information about MDROs and C. diff?

If you have any questions, speak with your doctor or nurse. You can also visit the following websites for more information:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
New York State Department of Health
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