A NEW antibiotic could help stem the spread of a killer hospital bug by preventing recurrent infections.
Clostridium difficile (C. diff) spread by poor personal hygiene, mostly afflicts people with weakened immune systems and is a significant problem in hospitals and nursing homes.
Up to a quarter of patients affected by it become reinfected within a month of being treated.
The new drug, fidaxomicin, works as well against C. diff as what is considered to be the "gold standard" treatment, vancomycin, the study showed.
But compared with vancomycin, it more than halved the rate of recurrent infection from 26.9pc to 12.7pc.
The trial, led by Professor Oliver Cornely, from University Hospital Cologne in Germany, compared 509 patients who were either given vancomycin or fidaxomicin.
Commenting on the findings published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, consultant microbiologist Professor Robert Masterton, from NHS Ayrshire and Arran, said: "Sadly, CDI remains a common problem in modern clinical practice.
"What is not well understood by the public is that CDI naturally has a high relapse rate and this in turn is associated with prolonged hospital stays, an increased risk of death and a considerable burden on NHS budgets."
He said the new treatment was a major step forward in combating the impact of the disease.