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January 18, 2018

Limiting the spread of multi-drug resistant bacteria in hospitals

Written By: Silke Schmidt

 Oguzhan Alagoz
Oguzhan Alagoz

In a study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, Industrial and Systems Engineering Professor Oguzhan Alagoz evaluated interventions for containing the spread of Clostridium difficile, a colon-infecting bacterium that can cause life-threatening diarrhea in hospitalized patients whose immune system is already weakened from chemotherapy or an organ transplantation. The emergence of several drug-resistant C. diff. strains has contributed to an alarming increase in disease during the past decade, with almost half a million estimated infections and 30,000 deaths in 2011.

The paper’s first author is Anna Barker, an MD/PhD student jointly supervised by Alagoz and co-author Nasia Safdar, an infectious disease physician at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. Using a mathematical tool called agent-based models, the researchers found that the two most effective interventions for hospital-onset infection were daily room cleaning with a sporicidal disinfectant and the screening of patients’ stool samples for C. diff. when they are first admitted.