Clostridium difficile: from obscurity to superbug

Br J Biomed Sci. 2008;65(1):39-44. doi: 10.1080/09674845.2008.11732796.


According to the UK media and popular press, Clostridium difficile is now a fully fledged member of that notorious but ill-defined group of microorganisms portrayed to the general public as superbugs. Following the trail blazed by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), C. difficile has made the transition from being an obscure anaerobic bacterium, mainly of interest to specialist anaerobic microbiologists, to that of an infamous superbug responsible for outbreaks of hospital-acquired infection that commonly result in serious disease and death. This review tracks the rise in scientific knowledge and public awareness of this organism.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Clostridium difficile / genetics
  • Clostridium difficile / isolation & purification
  • Clostridium difficile / pathogenicity*
  • Cricetinae
  • Cross Infection / epidemiology*
  • Cytotoxins / analysis
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Enterocolitis, Pseudomembranous / diagnosis
  • Enterocolitis, Pseudomembranous / epidemiology*
  • Enterocolitis, Pseudomembranous / microbiology
  • Feces / chemistry
  • Feces / microbiology*
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Humans
  • Molecular Epidemiology
  • Newspapers as Topic
  • Nucleic Acids / genetics
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology


  • Cytotoxins
  • Nucleic Acids