A mutation turns a common hospital bacterium into a deadly superbug that kills increasing numbers of hospital patients worldwide.
The superbug accounts for an estimated $3.2 billion each year in health care costs in the United States alone.
In research published in the open-access journal PLoS Pathogens, Dena Lyras and Glen Carter of Monash University demonstrate how a naturally occurring mutation in the bacterium Clostridium difficile causes potentially life-threatening diarrhea in hospital patients undergoing antibiotic therapy.
Lyras says C. difficile, which is able to colonize the colon when antibiotics have wiped out protective bacteria in the gut, causes a range of bowel disease symptoms, from mild diarrhea to more chronic forms.
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