In England and Wales, the national health statistics in 2007 showed that there were 8,324 death certificates which named Clostridium difficile. This is a bacterium which causes severe diarrhea in humans and animals as the underlying cause of death, a 28% increase from 2006.

Now Janet Nale of the Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation is investigating the contributing factors that make Clostridium difficile so aggressive to direct treatment. 

Nale said: “Bacteriophages are viruses that infect bacteria and some can completely change the behaviour of their host bacteria, or affect its ability to cause disease. In some cases, bacteriophages have been shown to convert a mild strain to a severe one.

“My project seeks to understand the contribution viruses make to the level of infection caused by C. difficile R027. My current research will investigate bacteriophages from 91 strains of Clostridium difficile R027 isolated from 9 hospitals in England and Wales.

“These insights should help us to understand one of the main factors that contributes to making C. difficile so aggressive and this can direct treatment.”

She will be presenting her research at the Festival of Postgraduate Research which is taking place on Thursday 25th June in the Belvoir Suite, Charles Wilson Building at the University of Leicester between 11:30am and 1pm. This event is open to the public and is free to attend.