We’re cringing at reports that some doctors are successfully treating an intractable superbug with a poop transplant.
Apparently, in a small number of cases, fecal transplantation has been successful in conquering “C. diff,” or Clostridium difficile. This pesky bacterium, particularly disabling to the elderly and infirm, scoffs at antibiotics like Superman scoffs at bullets.
As with too many other bugs, C. diff loves hospitals, and also thrives in the community, making control of the infection routes that much more difficult.
Probiotics have been making the rounds for years as one type of treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and the like, on the theory that intestinal disorders are caused by a lack of good bacteria in the gut, and fecal transplantation works along the same lines, placing healthy bacteria from a normally functioning bowel into the bowel of a sick person.
It’s too soon to tell if the risks associated with this bacteriotherapy outweigh the potential rewards. We don’t even know what all the risks might be—there haven’t been enough studies done on this procedure to prove it safe and effective, or not.