The Next BAD BUG

It's being called the next bad bug.

C-DIFF—an intestinal infection—is affecting thousands of people. In fact, it jumped 200 percent in the nation's hospitals between 2000 and 2005, according to a federal report.

If left untreated, C-DIFF can be deadly. Each year, C-DIFF is responsible for tens of thousands of cases of diarrhea and at least 5,000 deaths, according to the Center For Disease Control.

It's mostly prevalent in hospitals and is spread easily through direct contact. Antibiotics are to blame too, NBC 4's Amy Basista reported.

The bacteria don't create problems until they grown in large numbers in the intestinal tract of people taking antibiotics. "It's when there's an imbalance of bacteria either from antibiotics or sickness grows too much and makes a toxin," Dr. Mahr said.

The illness is more common in older patients. Symptoms range from diarrhea to life-threatening inflammations of the colon and include fever, abdominal pain, blood in the stool, nausea and dehydration.

Dr. Mahr advises people to wash their hands to keep it from spreading.

C-DIFF produces spores that cannot be killed by alcohol sanitizers—only with bleach.

Ironically, the thing that causes it — antibiotics — also cures it. If diagnosed, C-DIFF is treatable through antibiotics.