Oklahoma Clinic Developing Vaccine for Deadly Superbug

Tuesday, February 15th 2011, 1:18 pm
By: News 9

Jennifer Pierce, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Most Oklahomans have never heard of the bacteria, Clostridium difficle, or C-diff for short, but local researchers said the superbug, which can be deadly, is more common than you think.

C-diff can be contracted in hospitals and long-term care facilities. Common symptoms are fever and long lasting diarrhea.

The Lynn Health Science Institute in Oklahoma City, in Oklahoma City, is one of the only labs in the country working on a vaccine for C-diff.

Franklin Willis, the Executive Vice President of the clinic, became interested in C-diff after his elderly mother died from the bacteria three years ago.

The clinic is now conducting trials to develop a vaccine. Currently a patient infected with C-diff is treated with antibiotics.

Mustang residents, John and Cathy Burge both contracted C-diff.

"I was on antibiotics because of a foot wound and that can cause C-diff to come on," John said.

Doctors removed John's colon but did not expect him to live.

Ironically, his wife Cathy, caught the bug around the same time. Cathy said she was infected after gastric bypass surgery.

"I wasn't feeling well. I didn't know what I had. I just knew I was sick," Cathy said.

It took doctors six weeks to discover that Cathy had C-diff.

Both John and Cathy said they are hopeful a vaccine is developed soon because they are both at risk for contracting the infection again.