If you have ever had a stomach bug that caused diarrhea, cramping and chills, you know how disabling this can be, which are typical of C. difficile gut infections. Most doctors treat bacterial gut infections like these with antibiotics, which often help however, the downside is that antibiotics also kill off the good bacteria we need for health, vitamin assimilation and to help reduce inflammation, one of the main causes of disease.
In a new study, instead of using antibiotics, patients were given a fecal transplant, which means that they receive healthy flora from another person with a healthy gut. The idea is relatively new and has been used successfully in only the most severe infections in the gut that were not responsive to other methods.
Norwegian researchers asked if something more unusual — an enema containing a stew of bacteria from feces of healthy people could reverse an infection, while not disturbing the integrity of the normal flora that we need for our own health.
The idea that o-called fecal transplants as a first therapy for C. difficile infections may sound offensive, but this study, although limited in scope showed that people with C. difficile infections recovered quickly after being dosed with the fecal bacteria of people who were healthy.
This type of treatment may cause a paradigm shift in how we treat C. difficile infections in the gut.
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Antibiotics Weren’t Used to Cure These Patients. Fecal Bacteria Were.
In a small study, doctors used so-called fecal transplants to treat a serious gut infection in patients. The transplants, from healthy donors, were as effective as antibiotics.
By Gina Kolata
The bacteria can take over a person’s intestines and be difficult to eradicate. The infection causes fever, vomiting, cramps and diarrhea so severe that it kills 14,000 people a year in the United States alone.
The first line of treatment for the attacking microbes, called Clostridium difficile, is antibiotics. But a group of Norwegian researchers asked if something more unusual — an enema containing a stew of bacteria from feces of healthy people — might work just as well.
The answer, according to a report today in the New England Journal of Medicine, is yes.