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C. difficile outbreak at St. Catharines Hospital

The Niagara Health System, in consultation with Niagara Region Public Health, is declaring a C. difficile outbreak at the St. Catharines General Site effective May 28, 2011.

The site currently has a total of 12 confirmed cases of C. difficile on different units at the St. Catharines General Site, eight cases of which are hospital-associated.

C. difficile cases are tracked on a daily basis across all sites of the Niagara Health System. Due to an increase in the number of C. difficile cases at the site beyond what is normally experienced, an outbreak has been declared. The increase in cases of C. difficile at this time can be associated with multiple risk factors which include patient age and the use of antibiotics for various conditions.

The Niagara Health System team is continuing to work to its fullest capacity to reduce transmission of infectious diseases within the hospital. Niagara Health System thanks the public for their understanding and cooperation with control practices at this time.

BACKGROUND

What is C. difficile?

Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) causes diarrhea and is one of the most common infections in hospitals and long-term care facilities. People most at risk after exposure are typically of advanced age, and with underlying illnesses such as inflammatory bowel disease or immunodeficiency, who are also taking antibiotics. Antibiotics kill off the “good bacteria” in the bowel and allow the C. difficile to flourish and cause illness.

What Infection Control Practices are used?

Strict adherence to hand hygiene standards is an organizational priority. Hand hygiene is critical for staff, patients and for visitors upon entering and exiting the hospital, and is of critical importance on entering and exiting patient rooms, and upon touching any surfaces.

All affected patients have been placed in isolation rooms which are double-cleaned daily with the recommended sporacidal cleaners per our regular practice for C. difficile.

All staff and/or visitors to affected patients must wear proper Personal Protective Equipment per our regular practice. Early detection and intervention is practiced by the Infection Prevention and Control Team at all times. Additional cleaning of the common areas has been put in place on the affected units to further combat the spread.

These measures will contribute to the reduction of transmission and rapid end to the outbreak.

What are hospital-associated cases?

Hospital-associated cases are patients who develop symptoms 72 hours after hospital admission.

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