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Hospital experiencing a C. diff outbreak

April 01, 2009
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HAMILTON, ON, Canada — St. Joseph''s Healthcare Hamilton has declared that it is experiencing an outbreak of the superbug Clostridium difficile (C. diff), according to the Hamilton Spectator.
The infection, which causes severe diarrhea, nausea, painful cramping and sometimes death, has spread throughout seven wards and sickened 15 individuals, the story stated.
According to the October 2008 cover story from Cleaning & Maintenance Management, C. diff is a spore-forming organism that presents many challenges for cleaners.
Chief of staff Dr. David Higgins said: "In the spring, there is an expected increase in respiratory cases such as pneumonia that require antibiotics. Those drugs are well-known to contribute to the development of C. diff. We did believe our processes and protocols were in place to manage it and we had hoped by the end of March it would have started to fall, but it hasn''t. If anything, it''s increased."
According to the story, three patients infected with C. diff died in September at St. Joseph''s in an outbreak of 26 cases that prompted the closure of two units.
All of the infected patients at St. Joseph''s are frail, elderly patients with already-compromised health, the story noted.
The hospital is also treating 10 patients for a gastrointestinal ailment believed to be norovirus, the story added.
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