When Gut’s Internal Ecosystem Goes Awry, Could Ancient Treatment Make It Right? Lemur Researchers Make Case for Fecal Transplants to Reduce Side-Effects of Antibiotics

Dr. Cathy Williams, Senior Veterinarian at the Duke Lemur Center, knew something wasn’t right. She had felt off for weeks after her 2014 trip to Madagascar. At first, she just felt bloated and uncomfortable and wasn’t interested in eating much. But eventually she developed a fever and chills that sent her to the emergency room. When tested, doctors found that what she had wasn’t just a stomach bug. She was suffering from an infection of Clostridium difficile, a germ that causes severe diarrhea and abdominal pain and can quickly become life-threatening if not treated promptly. “It was horrible,” Dr. Williams said. The condition is often triggered when antibiotics disrupt the normal balance of bacteria that inhabit the gut, allowing “bad” bacteria such as C. difficile to multiply unchecked and wreak havoc on the intestines.

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