Q. How likely am I to infect people with C. difficle while at work?

Answered by
Dr. Mahmoud Ahmed Abelrahman Abouibrahim
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
Published on Feb 18, 2018

Hello doctor,

How likely is it that I might unwittingly cause people to be infected/ colonized with some harmful microbe (for example, C. difficile) while at work? I have been having some serious anxiety issues from thinking and worrying about this.

I have been working in a restaurant for the past one month and been using a backpack to hold my work clothes. The inside of the backpack did not appear or smell dirty, but it has been used for various purposes before. For example, on a few occasions I had used the backpack to go to the gym. I put my workout clothes in a plastic bag first, so I never had dirty clothes touching the inside of the backpack, but I had sometimes put the plastic bag on the changing room floor while changing before putting the plastic bag back in the backpack.

I am now really worried that the inside of the backpack was contaminated with some dangerous pathogen, meaning that my work clothes became contaminated, and hence, when I occasionally touched my clothes, I transferred some of those pathogens to my hands. I have become increasingly worried that I might have ultimately infected other people (or caused colonization), especially customers, but I do not know whether it is true or not. How likely is it to be true? And what mitigating steps should I take now, if necessary?

Dr. Mahmoud Ahmed Abelrahman Abouibrahim

General Medicine Internal Medicine
#

Hi,

Welcome to icliniq.com.

Clostridium difficile infection is of two types:

1. Symptomatic (causing diarrhea mainly): which is either due to transmission through infected food and contaminated hands or after antibiotic therapy.

2. Asymptomatic carrier (like your case).

You have to perform clostridium difficile tests like EIA (enzyme immunoassay) toxin test to confirm that you are a carrier. If the result came positive and you are working in a restaurant, then I suggest you take eradication therapy (Metronidazole 500 mg twice for seven days). Consult your specialist doctor, discuss with him or her and take the medications with their consent. In case you are not working in the restaurant, no treatment is required as long as you are asymptomatic.

Regarding hepatitis A virus, there is a vaccine that you must take if you are working in a restaurant.

For more information consult an internal medicine physician online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/internal-medicine-physician

Thank you doctor,

My question was more about the possible transfer of a disease like clostridium difficle via clothing, as described in detail in my first question. Would you be able to help me judge the likelihood of this occurrence?

Dr. Mahmoud Ahmed Abelrahman Abouibrahim

General Medicine Internal Medicine
#

Hi,

Welcome back to icliniq.com.

Persons with colonized clostridium difficile pass spores in their stools. These spores could contaminate their hands and belongings. If these spores reach other person's food or drink they become infected and remain either symptomatic or asymptomatic (colonized).

Steps you should take: clean your hands properly after using the toilet, get tested, then eradicate the organism. You can use alcohol disinfectants like sterilium to clean your belongings.

For more information consult an internal medicine physician online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/internal-medicine-physician

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