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Flora Horror

Hospitals struggle with a serious new gut microbe

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10:29am, February 14, 2006

About 3 years ago, physicians in Quebec noticed an alarming pattern in patients with diarrhea. "All of a sudden, we were having patients so sick that they needed the ICU [intensive-care unit]," says doctor and epidemiologist Sandra Dial. The same illness was also sending patients to the morgue as never before. They weren't succumbing to the ailment that brought them to the hospital. Instead, they seemed to have gotten sick from their antibiotic treatment.

As an antibiotic attacks its target, it can also kill harmless flora, the term for the billions of bacteria that live in healthy intestines. Invaders, mainly the pathogen Clostridium difficile, can flock to the colon's open real esta

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