Oklahoma City institute working on C. difficile vaccine

The Lynn Health Science Institute in Oklahoma City is currently one of the only laboratories in the country working on a vaccine for the Clostridium difficle bacteria, which can be contracted in hospitals and long-term care facilities.

Known as C-diff for short, the bacteria is called a superbug and can be both common and deadly. C. difficile can lead to pseudomembranous colitis, which is a severe infection of the colon, and often results from the eradication of flora by antibiotics normally found in the gut.

Executive Vice President Franklin Willis became interested in developing a vaccine for the bacteria after his elderly mother died from an infection of C-diff three years ago, reports.

The clinic is currently conducting trials to develop the vaccine. Patients who are infected with C-diff are presently treated with antibiotics. Infections can come on after surgical procedures.

Latent symptoms of C. difficile infection are very similar to those of the flu and can mimic disease flare for patients with inflammatory bowel disease-associated colitis.

Mild cases of C. difficile infection can often be cured by discontinuing the antibiotics resonsible for allowing the infection to flourish, while more serious cases may require oral administrations of metronidazole and vancomycin.

Relapses of C. difficile have been reported in as many as 20 percent of cases.