Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
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There's a type of bacteria found in half of the hospital rooms where someone stayed, even after cleaning. And it can make people very sick for a long time. But now a first-ever vaccine is being tested to prevent this infection and you can join the free study.

A knee replacement for John Nichols turned into big health problems. He was in and out of the hospital when he got a staph infection.

'Then they sent me home with a PICC line which I had intravenous antibiotics 24 hours a day for three months. They stopped that the staph, the infection came back. Back in the hospital,' said Nichols.

The artificial knee had to come out. He'll have to go back in the hospital for another knee replacement surgery. And that will put him at risk of getting another kind of infection that can be picked up in the hospital.

'C. diff is a spore that can live on inanimate, objects such as table tops, counter tops, bed rails, so it's particularly bad for patients who go in the hospital,' said Tim Slocum, vice-President of Clinical Project Management at MedPharmics.

'It can be a very, very severe diarrhea and can even lead to death. I mean, it can cause perforations in the colon,' explained Dr. Robert Jeanfreau, an internal medicine specialist who practices at East Jefferson General Hospital.

C. diff sends 350,000 people to the hospital every year in the U.S. And more than three quarters of them are 50 or older. It's hard to get rid of the infection and patients can get sick over and over.

'Patients who have it, are diagnosed with it, they are 50 to 60 percent more likely to get a second case of C. diff once they get it the first time,' said Slocum.

So the first ever vaccine is being tested worldwide to protect people from getting C. diff. Dr. Jeanfreau is the principal Investigator and his office in Metairie is one of the test sites. John joined the free study and got the vaccine.

'The program seemed pretty cool, you know, like I don't want to get nothing else, because I've got to go back to the hospital again,' said Nichols. 'It's nice to go to the doctor and get paid and not have to pay the doctor.'

If the vaccine is proven to be safe and effective, it will also keep the bacterial infection from spreading to other patients in the hospital.

To qualify, you have to be 50 or older and have had hospital stays in the last year or an upcoming planned hospital stay. For more call MedPharmics at 504-609-2333.

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