HealthDay News — Reducing the use of fluoroquinolones has curbed an outbreak of Clostridium difficile that began in 2006 in England, according to a study published The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

“Emergency measures — such as ‘deep cleaning’ and careful antibiotic prescribing — were introduced [after the outbreak began] and numbers of C difficile infections gradually fell by 80%, but no one was sure precisely why,” study coauthor Derrick Crook, MBBCh, a professor of microbiology at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, said in a university news release.

The researchers analyzed hospital data related to the outbreak and found that, among the outbreak, the smaller number of cases of diarrhea caused by C difficile infections that were not resistant to fluoroquinolone antibiotics stayed the same.

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“Our study shows that the C difficile epidemic was an unintended consequence of intensive use of an antibiotic class, fluoroquinolones, and control was achieved by specifically reducing use of this antibiotic class, because only the C difficile bugs that were resistant to fluoroquinolones went away,” Crook explained. “Reducing the type of antibiotics like ciprofloxacin was, therefore, the best way of stopping this national epidemic of C difficile, and routine, expensive deep cleaning was unnecessary.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

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Dingle KE, Didelot X, Quan TP, et al; Modernising Medical Microbiology Informatics Group. Effects of control interventions on Clostridium difficile infection in England: an observational study [published online January 24, 2017]. Lancet Infect Dis. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(16)30514-X