A 70 year old male went to the emergency room complaining of fever, diarrhea, intestinal cramps and a sore throat. Blood cultures were negative for bacteria, but stool cultures isolated a gram...

A 70 year old male went to the emergency room complaining of fever, diarrhea, intestinal cramps and a sore throat. Blood cultures were negative for bacteria, but stool cultures isolated a gram positive rod-shaped bacterium. When asked about any new or unusual food he had consumed, the patient stated the he had consumed a ripened farm cheese his daughter had given him that she had brought back from a recent trip to Mexico. A sample of the cheese was sent to the laboratory. Further culturing revealed the same type of bacterium and that this microbe grew best at 4o C, rather than 37o C.

Question:

  1. What is the etiologic (causative) agent of the disease/disorder?

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As I stated in your earlier question, I believe that the causative agent here is the bacteria Clostridium difficile.  This is an elongated shaped bacteria that is Gram positive to staining.  In people with a weakened gut flora (like an elderly person who may have taken a widespread antibiotic in a clinical setting recently), C. difficile spores can infect the intestine and spread in the absence of bacterial competition.  Once it spreads, the bacteria can cause severe intestinal pain including diarrhea and cramps, and it can also cause flu like symptoms as well.

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