C Difficile Niagara

January 7, 2012 by staff 

C Difficile NiagaraC Difficile Niagara, News of a second death of a patient diagnosed with C. difficile at Greater Niagara General Hospital comes just as cases of the bacterial infection appear to be levelling off.
That’s according to Dr. Sue Matthews, interim president and CEO of the Niagara Health System, which made the Jan. 4 death public on Friday as part of a daily update of the GNGH outbreak.
“Even as (the outbreak) is levelling, we are going above and beyond doing whatever we can for infection control,” Matthews said in a telephone interview with This Week, adding that she could not pin down a time frame for and end to the current outbreak.
The number of cases of C. diff currently at GNGH remains at 20. There are 11 hospital-associated cases (no change) and nine community/other cases (no change). Seven cases are directly attributed to the outbreak in Unit D. Currently, there are nine cases in unit D, including seven hospital-associated cases (no change) and two community/other cases (no change).
The patient, according to the update from the health system, had “ multiple health issues” and had tested positive for hospital-associated case of C. diff. Little information is being released about the patient, including the age and sex.
“We have to remember the perspective of a family which has lost a loved one,” Matthews said.
The two deaths in the most recent outbreak are in addition to 38 deaths which occurred outbreaks at St. Catharines General Hospital, Greater Niagara General and Welland County General Hospital which began in May (St. Catharines) and June (GNGH, Welland) of 2011. It’s believed C. diff played a role in 18 of the deaths during the five-month outbreak.
Meanwhile, Matthews said, what has been fuelling the spread of the infection is what she described as a “high number of community cases” which result from patients coming to the hospital for other issues and don’t realize they even have C. diff.
“A friend of mine had kidney stones and when she was given antibiotics it was discovered she had C. difficle,” Matthews said.
She said that is the way the infection is unmasked.
“Sometimes people have it and they just don’t know it,” she said.
She said doctors are constantly having to conduct a “balancing act” when dealing with patients who come to the hospital.
“A patient may come to the hospital with pneumonia,” Matthews said. “The doctor knows giving antibiotics could reveal C. difficile.”
While infection control measures are being undertaken at NHS sites, including twice-a-day cleanings of rooms, as well as deep cleanings of rooms where the infection has been present help in the hospital settings, there are measures the community can take as well.
“I don’t mean to sound repetitive but, wash your hands,” Matthews said.
She said that simple steps like packing a container of hand sanitizer when heading out can help.

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