Long-term care providers might want to pay special attention to residents with certain recently identified risk factors for Clostridium difficile. These factors are chronic dialysis, recent hospitalization and use of corticosteroids such as prednisone.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, analyzed stool samples of 320 patients with no symptoms of C. diff. Thirty-one of the patients tested positive for C. diff. If the researchers had tested only samples from patients with one of the three risk factors, they would have identified 23 of the C. diff carriers, or 74% of them.

“This is in the range of previously published screening efficiency rates for MRSA,” said the study authors. “The role of asymptomatic carriers in transmitting C. difficile should be studied further, and the utility of … targeted surveillance to detect asymptomatic carriers should be explored in areas of high endemicity or outbreak settings when other control measures have been exhausted.”

The study appears in the May issue of the American Journal of Infection Control.