C. difficile outbreak declared at St. Catharines General Hospital
An outbreak of Clostridium difficile (C. diff) has been declared at the St. Catharines General Site’s Oncology Medical/Palliative Unit in the wake of five confirmed cases on the unit during the past two weeks, according to a Niagara Health System (NHS) news release Dec. 1.
The NHS outbreak declaration was based on their infection prevention and control protocols. Four affected patients remain on the unit, and there have been no deaths associated with the outbreak.
“We have stringent infection prevention and control protocols at all of our sites, and our doctors, staff and volunteers work extremely hard to follow these best practices,” says Dr. Joanna Hope, Interim Chief of Staff. “We are doing everything we can to get out of this outbreak as quickly as possible.”
NHS is in regular contact with infectious disease specialist Dr. Michael Gardam. Dr. Gardam is Director of Infection Prevention and Control for the University Health Network in Toronto and a recognized expert in Canada for infection prevention and control.
“I consult with the infection prevention and control team at the NHS every week, and the hospital has put a number of innovative measures in place to minimize spread and control C. difficile,” says Dr. Gardam. “Superbugs like C. difficile are an ongoing battle for all hospitals and will always be a challenge.”
Clostridium difficile is a bacterium found throughout nature; soil, water and the intestines of humans and various animals. It has been isolated in the feces of 3% of healthy adults according to one study. It is however more prevalent in hospitalized adults with colonization rates of up to 30 percent seen.
It is implicated as a causative bacterium of antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD) and pseudomembranous colitis (PMC). The problem is when there is a decrease of normal intestinal flora typically due to the use of antibiotics (the list of antibiotics is quite long). This allows the C. difficile that is normally in check, to flourish and produce some potent toxins that results in diarrhea or the potentially life-threatening PMC.
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