Between October 2015 and October 2016, the NHS in Scotland reported 1,150 cases of C. difficile, or C. diff, infections — enough patients to continuously occupy a 30-bed hospital for a year — amounting to staggering costs of more than $11.1m.

While the actual number of C. diff cases — caused by a bacterium that can infect the bowel and cause diarrhoea — is relatively low, it should be noted that the reoccurring nature of C. diff amounts to the majority of the cost, with over half of discharged patients being readmitted to hospital within six months.

For the first time, researchers have compared 3,304 patients with C. diff infections with 9,516 patients without infections in Scottish hospitals from 2010–2013.

The researchers determined that C. diff infections not only doubled the risk of death within the first two months, but caused death in nearly a third of all registered cases of C. diff, while survivors of the initial infections frequently suffered from reoccurring infections within six months.

Of the cured patients, nearly 14 percent suffered from recurrent C. diff infections within three months, and nearly 30 percent were readmitted to hospital within a year.

Scotland is not the only country suffering from recurrent C. diff infections.

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A similar study found that 15–30 percent of all C. diff cases in England are due to recurrent infections.

However, there are three potential pipeline drugs which are designed for recurring C. diff infections that could improve the situation – Seres Therapeutics’ SER-109, Rebiotix’s RBX-2660, and Summit Therapeutics’ ridinilazole.