The West’s sugar-rich diet is supporting the emergence of a superbug which has evolved to thrive in hospitals, scientists have warned.
The gut-infecting bacterium Clostridium difficile (C-diff) is evolving into two separate species, with one increasingly adapting to live in the guts of people with poor diets, while growing ever better at overcoming the disinfectants used to clean wards.
Patients infected with C-diff can experience debilitating diarrhoea and are left dangerously dehydrated. Bacteria are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics, and if an infection is not treated quickly it can be fatal.
Nearly 2,000 people die from the bacterium each year in Britain, where researchers at the Wellcome Sanger Institute and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine looked at the genetics of 906 strains of C-diff from 33 countries.
They found a dangerous new species is rapidly emerging which can beat common hospital disinfectants and spread easily. And poor diets are making the problem worse.
Dr Trevor Lawley, the senior author, said: “Strains of C-diff bacteria have continued to evolve in response to modern diets and healthcare systems and reveal that focusing on diet and looking for new disinfectants could help in the fight against this bacteria.”
Researchers found that the new emerging species made up around 70pc of the samples from hospital patients.