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C. diff outbreak linked to 13 deaths

March 25, 2009
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EASTBOURNE, ES, United Kingdom — A particularly strong strain of Clostridium difficile (C. diff) has been linked to the deaths of 13 patients while another 17 are being treated for the infection at Eastbourne District General Hospital, according to the Telegraph.
This new 027 strain of Clostridium difficile, referred to as "Super" C. diff, can produce 20 times as much toxin as other strains, is known to cause a higher mortality rate and is resistant to several drugs used to combat the infection, the story stated.
According to the story, there have been 62 cases of Clostridium difficile since the beginning of the year at Eastbourne District General Hospital, and the Health Protection Agency has been called in to assist in containing the infection.
The infection is usually spread by health care workers who fail to properly wash their hands with soap and water; its spores can contaminate floors, bedpans and door handles where they can survive for several days, the story noted.
A spokesperson for the hospital said: "The recent outbreak is thought to be due to the very high number of patients admitted over the winter with severe respiratory infections which have required antibiotic therapy which, in turn, increases peoples'' susceptibility to the infection, particularly in the frail and elderly. It has been confirmed that many of these cases were linked to the 027 strain which is known to have a 60 percent mortality rate."
Infected patients have been moved to a dedicated isolation ward and managers have spent £100,000 ($145, 690) on new equipment to eradicate the bacteria from contaminated surfaces within the hospital, the story added.
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