MIAMI (CBS4) — Most of us have heard of MRSA. The antibiotic resistant super-bug can eat through patients’ skin but there’s another bug few have heard about that can be just as menacing and it’s causing deadly and preventable infections.

Three months after having a knee replacement, Kathleen Powers is finally feeling well enough to do something as simple as make herself a cup of tea.

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However, her slow recovery has nothing to do with her knee. An infection she picked up in the hospital ravaged her digestive system.

“It’s debilitating. You feel like all of your life’s energy is being sucked out of you.

Tests confirmed Kathleen had C-Diff.

It’s short for Clostridium Difficile a bacteria that attacks your intestines.

“You feel like all of your life’s energy is being sucked out of you,” she said. “You feel like you’re not going to get better and you feel like you are dying.”

Many people do die from this superbug.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, C-Diff kills thousands of people a year and that number is rising.

“It’s between three to six fold more common today than it was just ten years ago,” explained Dr. Rocco Riccardi.

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Dr. Riccardi said antibiotics are the standard treatment but  that doesn’t always work.

“In that situation, one can get very, very sick and have to have their colon removed, their entire colon,” according to Dr. Riccardi.

Riccardi and the CDC blame a new strain of the bacteria.

“This epidemic strain is much more aggressive. It produces many more toxins or stronger toxins and it’s harder to treat,” explained Riccardi.

C-Diff is highly contagious and is usually spread by health care workers who don’t wash properly.

It gets even tricker because those alcohol-based hand sanitizers used in hospitals kill all kinds of potentially dangerous bacteria but they don’t  work on C-Diff.

Washing with soap and water before and after entering a patients room is only way to kill it.

The microscopic spores of C-Diff can also survive for weeks on hard surfaces like a counter, a phone, or handrail.

Kathleen said hospitals need to do more to educate and protect their patients.

“You don’t think you’re going to go in and come out with something deadly. I just want people to be aware that this C-Diff is out there and it’s devastating.”

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Certain antibiotics can actually increase your risk of C-Diff so if you are having surgery talk to your doctor. The only other way to protect yourself is to make sure your caregivers keep their hands clean or wear gloves.

Marybel Rodriguez