General Question

Aster's avatar

How dangerous , if at all, is it to visit someone under these conditions?

Asked by Aster (19974points) April 14th, 2013

I have an old friend in the hospital with an often fatal illness. Her husband told me since she’s contagious you put on something like an astronaut uniform before going into her room. Is it safe to visit ? She has c-diff and sepsis. I don’t know what else.

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29 Answers

ETpro's avatar

Ask her doctors for advice. I am sure that they know how to take proper precautions to prevent the transmission of the infection. My best wishes for her recovery.

Aster's avatar

Thanks but her doctors won’t talk to me. Only to relatives. But her husband told me you have to wear an astronaut suit and I wondered if those guarantee you won’t get sick.
She is getting better; just began eating Jello. Had been tube fed for weeks.

chyna's avatar

It is highly contagious and her husband is correct, you have to put on gloves, mask, etc. My aunt had it last summer and was sick for weeks. She finally recovered from it.
As to the nature of the illness, I would guess that she doesn’t want anyone in her room that doesn’t need to be there.

Aster's avatar

@chyna I understand exactly what you’re saying, Her husband told me, “I’m sure she’d love to see you.” I wonder..

JLeslie's avatar

Is c diff, c difficile? I would never guess that or sepsis is contagious? I’m not a doctor, so again I am guessing based on basic knowledge, I could very well be wrong.

I would think you would be dressed to protect the patient whose immune system can’t handle another thing.

chyna's avatar

@Aster My aunt didn’t even want her family in the room. Crapping ones brains out with no control is not something the sick person wants you to see.

Aster's avatar

@JLeslie yes, c. difficile. She almost died. She didn’t even have a gastroenterologist to her husband’s shock. He said the uniform is to protect the visitor from contracting one of her illnesses.

JLeslie's avatar

@Aster Interesting. I never knew. Why not call her room and ask her if she wants visitors?

Aster's avatar

@JLeslie thats a good idea. I never thought of it ! Maybe because I wasn’t aware she was talking. I was told she sleeps most of the time. I thought she was in ICU all these weeks. They accept phone calls ?

JLeslie's avatar

If anything she will get to chat with you on the phone, which might lift her spirits. If she doesn’t pick up you cam call the nurses desk and ask when she is usually awake and try again.

Aster's avatar

That is a terrific idea !!

Pachy's avatar

Cards and phone calls would suffice, I’m sure. Your friend would certainly understand your not wanting to risk contacting her disease.

Aster's avatar

@Pachyderm_In_The_Room you may be right. But her husband thinks the gloves and mask would suffice. I do know her best friend from 1955 won’t visit.

JLeslie's avatar

I think you would be safe with the precautions, but she may not want visitors right now.

Aster's avatar

If she doesn’t want visitors I wonder why her husband gave me specific instructions to her room ? Does he have a vendetta against me?

JLeslie's avatar

Against you? Or, do you mean against her? I would never assume a husband knows for sure what his wife would prefer while in the hospital. Call me crazy.

Don’t go if you are wary. Just give her a call.

Aster's avatar

I’d never call you crazy! I took it for granted that she wanted visitors since he visits daily and may have told him so! You know , if you’re sick, you tell your s/o that you either wouldn’t mind having visitors or, llke another friend said once to her husband, “tell everyone I do not want any visitors.” This had to do , I think, with her not having her hair fixed or makeup on. If it were me, I wouldn’t want visitors due to looking dreadful. I look bad enough when I’m not sick.

jca's avatar

C Diff is a disease that causes diarrhea and sepsis, I’m not sure but my personal feeling is that she may or may not want company, but regardless, I would not want to even take a chance of catching anything like that. Especially now you read about superbugs in hospitals, putting on a suit to visit someone is still risky. I’m sure she would understand if you don’t want to take the chance. I know I wouldn’t.

ETpro's avatar

C diff is not likely to make someone sick unless they have taken a round of broad-spectrum antibiotic such as clindamycin. A small percentage of the population have the c diff bacilli in their gut all the time without any adverse effect. Where it becomes a problem is when all the friendly bacteria in there have been killed off, and it can run wild. It produces toxins that cause severe diarrhea and swelling of the colon.

Tina823's avatar

Why not ask advises from doctors. Only they can give you professional answers.

JLeslie's avatar

The disease isn’t airborne. You have to touch something infected with the disease and then touch your mouth or get it into your system somehow. She is not quarantined like when someone has TB, she is in a private room so no one else uses her bathroom or touches the same door knobs, etc.

@ETpro is correct that some people have it lurking in their intestines and don’t know it. I have taken mega mega doses of antibiotics and never developed that infection, my guess is I don’t have it to begin with.

seekingwolf's avatar

I work with c diff patients all the time. You wear a gown and gloves. It’s not airborne. It’s spread through fecal matter through contact. The key is to gown up and wash your hands a lot.

That being said, I would not visit. I can’t imagine she’s thrilled to get visitors. C diff makes you crap your brains out. The smell is horrible and it lingers in the room. You often can’t control your bowels and are sometimes incontinent.

While I don’t feel there is a real risk of you contracting c diff if you’re careful, I would refrain from visiting someone like this unless she’s actually dying. It’s embarrassing.

Give her a call instead.

seekingwolf's avatar


Many people do have a small amount of c diff in their guts. That’s what doctors have told me. That’s normal. Antibiotics alone, even if a lot, doesn’t make you at risk for getting c diff. People who get it often have other risk factors like weakened immune systems and other underlying medical issues. Being in a hospital for a while too… That’s a risk factor because of the transmission issue. An otherwise healthy person taking a lot of antibiotics isn’t going to just come down with c diff.

JLeslie's avatar

@seekingwolf I know the infection is very rare, and even people who have c. diff floating around in their system a little don’t have to come down with the infection just because they took antibiotics. As you said immune system and other things play a role. But, also, if you don’t have it, you don’t get it. The bacteria doesn’t materialize out of nowhere. So it can be either reason, no way to know which. Just to clarify about the antibiotics, I am talking IV large doses for over a week with follow up of PO for weeks more than once in my life. I don’t mean the average I took ten days of antibiotics three times this year for strep throat. But, still, I agree with you that does not have to mean I would get sick even if I had it lurking.

Mostly, it’s just me playing down possibilities. I also say I don’t worry about getting West Nile, because I figure I’ve had it already considering how much the mosquitos love me.

seekingwolf's avatar

C diff infection is not rare. Where did you read that? My city ran an article in the paper about how they had thousands of cases of it in a few years within the area hospital. It’s a widespread problem everywhere. The UK currently tracks infection rates but the US doesn’t yet, which I’m upset about because I think hospitals with high infection rates need to be penalized. Everyday that I’m at work, on certain floors, there is always at least one person with a confirmed case. There are many more who aren’t confirmed. I remember when I began working in the hospital, we had 5–6 confirmed cases on one unit. It was awful. Sadly, I still see that sometimes.

Most people do have the bacteria in their gut in tiny amounts. You really don’t now unless you actually get sick but it’s probably already in there in tiny, normal amounts. But even a week of heavy duty antibiotics (like your experience) in a normal, usually healthy person like you isn’t going to put you at a huge risk. I’m talking being geriatric or having a weakened system, and I’m talking weeks of continual on-off antibiotic use, usually different antibiotics, for hell knows what. IVs, oral, you name it.

You wouldn’t believe the laundry list of medications…

But yeah, the typical jelly is not at risk. Even with a lot of antibiotics.

And you are right, if you had West Nile, you wouldn’t know because it seems like a cold to healthy people. Only babies and old folks have to worry about that.

JLeslie's avatar

@seekingwolf Interesting that the US doesn’t track it. I had no idea it was very common. I feel like people in the US worry about it more than they should. My neighbor had a bad case of diarrhea and the doctor drugged her up with weeks of Flagyl, and I kept telling her I did not believe she had c. diff. I believed she was in a state of severe depression and anxiety from the loss of her parents. The Flagyl did not help at all, her stool cultures were always fine bybthe way, negative. After a few weeks of the drugs she stopped, because she could not stand it anymore, couldn’t stand the side effects and was not seeing a benefit. They put her through colonscopies, all sorts of tests. Ugh, I was so upset. After about 7 months she began to get better, basically as she began to mentally get back to normal. When I went through something similar 25 years ago, the doctors all assumed it was from the grieving. Maybe I was lucky. Xanax helped my digestive tract.

I did mean I had IV followed by PO consecutively for weeks.

seekingwolf's avatar

It’s pretty common, sadly. But unless you’re old and prone to those kinds of infections, it’s nothing to worry about. Even I don’t worry about getting it and I’m exposed to it a lot because I clean incontinent patients when they’ve pooped themselves and there is a huge mess.

That sounds like a weird doctor to be honest. She didn’t have it. Poor lady. If someone has severe anxiety or sadness from grieving, then medication for anxiety like Xanax can help a lot just by reducing anxiety and allowing normal function to return. Weird how that works for many. I get irritable bowel syndrome symptoms when I am extremely upset. I think that’s really common.

Yeah IV followed by PO for a typical person should pose no problem. I’ve seen many patients on several antibiotics at one time, all by IV, like a bag of fluid for each one and there are a few bags, plus more by mouth at the same time. They never get a break from the stuff and always seem to get infections anyway. They also are at risk for getting recurrent MRSA infections which is a resistant bacteria that usually culminates in skin and wound infections.

Again, nasty stuff but nothing you and I have to worry about.

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t worry. I have a chronic infection for over 20 years.

snowberry's avatar

My dad went into the hospital due to a gastric bleed, and came out with c-diff. I’m not surprised, considering that everyone walking into his room were walking right through the crap he’d just dribbled onto the floor. They always called the janitors when this happened, but it often took hours for them to arrive. In the meantime the staff would just walk right through the mess out into the carpeted hallway. I took to dropping sheets, towels and anything else I could find onto the floor to mop up the worst of it, and shove it into a corner while waiting for the janitors.

I asked why staff on hand weren’t allowed to clean up the floor in his room, and they told me that they weren’t allowed to, that they were required to wait for the janitors. But they were chronically short staffed in the janitorial department.

Considering their “cleanliness policies” (What an asinine way to run a hospital!), I’d say it’s a wonder everyone in the whole place didn’t emerge with a bad case of c-diff.

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