Clostridium difficile – a perfidious germ

Second event of the lecture series, "KrankheitsErregend" (pathogenic), on 8 November

Electron micrograph showing the bacterium, Clostridium difficile.©HZI / Rhode This year's lecture series titled "KrankheitsErregend" (PathoGenic) at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig takes a close look at hospital germs. On the heels of the first event on MRSA, the second event of the lecture series scheduled for 8 November focuses on the bacterium, Clostridium difficile. Why this bacterium is so perfidious and how it can be controlled anyway are the questions that will be discussed with the audience by two experts starting at 10.30 h.

Clostridium difficile is a pathogen that is present in the intestines of most people, but usually is harmless. The germ becomes dangerous only when the normal intestinal flora is out of balance. This may happen because of an infection or an earlier antibiotic therapy, in which the medication kills the intestinal flora. This bacterium is one of the main pathogens causing diarrhoeal diseases, especially in hospitals, which can be fatal in the worst case.

The germ protects itself from antibiotics using a special trick: It hides in a capsule, i.e. in spores. As a result, the medications do not affect the bacterium. Even worse, the infection often becomes manifest only after the freshly healed patients return home after the hospital stay thinking that they overcame their disease.

The special features of this germ and ways to successfully control it will be illustrated and discussed in the scope of the second event of the lecture series, "KrankheitsErregend" (PathoGenic) by Prof Wilfried Bautsch, a medical doctor of the Clinic Braunschweig, and Prof Dieter Jahn, a microbiologist of the Technical University Braunschweig.

While Prof Bautsch is going to discuss whether Clostridium difficile will become an increasing problem in medical practice, Prof Jahn is going to look at the dangers arising from the germ after an antibiotic treatment. Following the presentations, the audience has the opportunity to ask questions during a discussion session moderated by science journalist Jens Lubbadeh.

"Hospital-acquired germs are very present in almost all media these days. We aim to use this lecture series to disseminate information about the individual pathogens and to take a look at approaches leading to possible solutions in general," says Katja Flaig, Project Manager at the HZI.

The event starts at 10:30 h at the Forum of the HZI. Admission is free.

For more information, please visit www.helmholtz-hzi.de/krankheitserregend/ . If you have any related questions, please contact the Press and Public Relations Department of the HZI (Phone: +49(0)531-6181-1402, E-Mail: veranstaltungen@helmholtz-hzi.de).

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