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Coprophagia - Does it have a role in medical practice?


Sally Marsh
Felix Kotasek
Faculty of Medicine
University of Adelaide


Coprophagia is defined as the ingestion of faeces. This is an important and normal element in the digestive activities of many members of the animal kingdom - including rabbits, hamsters, elephants and koalas. Taken literally, we are quite confident coprophagia is not medically recommended for our own species. Applying the principle of coprophagia, this case study discusses a novel therapy option that is currently being researched for recurrent C. difficile infections, Faecal Microbiota Transplantation.

Clostridium difficile infection has become more frequent and more severe in recent decades, which some people attribute to a new hypervirulent strain of C. difficile termed NAP1/BI/027. Recurrent Cl difficile infections occur in 25% of cases and with each episode the efficacy of standard antibiotic therapy diminishes.

It is estimated that the burden of C. difficile infection in the U.S. was 450,000 cases in 2011, with 83,000 episodes representing new infections. There were 29,000 deaths directly related to C.difficile infection.

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