At least twenty sandboxes for playgrounds and dogs for dogs in Madrid show aggressive forms of the bacterium Clostridium difficile, according to research carried out by the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM).
It is a bacterium difficult to reduce since it is found in people, animals or the environment. A few years ago, almost 100% of human infections caused by C. difficile were in hospitals. However, now a day, infections outside hospitals have appeared, accounting for 5% of total C. difficile infections, explained José Luis Blanco, UCM researcher.
The study, which also includes the University of Leiden (The Netherlands) and which has been published in Zoonoses Public Health, highlights the environmental health risk posed by sandboxes frequented by children and dogs in three areas of Madrid.
Although it hasn’t been studied if these results apply to other cities, or even in other parks in the region, Blanco believes this may be the case.
The cases of infection by this bacterium in children are rare, although they are becoming less rare, warned the expert. In principle, it is considered that below two years of age, it does not cause any type of pathology due to the lack of receptors for toxins in the intestine of those minors. From two years of age, the disease can occur, as those kids can become transmitters, he added.
Bowel, the weak point
In hospitals, C. difficile causes, in most cases, an alteration of the intestinal flora as a consequence of treatment with antibiotics. The clinical picture of the patient is characterized by a diarrheal process that can cause lesions in the intestine that require removing part of it.
“In principle, it does not cause a high number of deaths, but it does translate into very high economic cost by significantly increasing the time of hospitalization of patients,” says the researcher.
Changing the sand by rubber floors (as is already being done in some places) and fence the children’s areas are some measures proposed by the UCM researcher to reduce the presence of this bacterium.