"A deadly bacterial illness commonly seen in people on antibiotics appears to be growing more common -- even in patients not taking such drugs, according to a report published Thursday in a federal health journal.
In another article in the New England Journal of Medicine, health officials said samples of the same bacterium taken from eight U.S. hospitals show it is mutating to become even more resistant to antibiotics.
"I don't want to scare people away from using antibiotics. ... But it's concerning, and we need to respond," said Dr. L. Clifford McDonald, an author of both articles and an epidemiologist at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Hospitals need to be conducting surveillance and implementing control measures. And all of us need to realize the risk of antibiotic use may be increasing" as the bacteria continue to mutate, McDonald said.
The bacterium is Clostridium difficile, also known as C-diff. The germ is becoming a regular menace in hospitals and nursing homes, and last year it was blamed for 100 deaths over 18 months at a hospital in Quebec, Canada.
"What exactly has made C-diff act up right now, we don't know," McDonald said."