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C. difficile outbreak declared over

Posted Mar 5th, 2009

NIAGARA FALLS, ON:  An outbreak of Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) at Greater Niagara General Site’s Unit C Medical Inpatient Unit has been declared over, effective today.

“Managing outbreaks is a common challenge for hospitals everywhere,” says Frank Demizio, Niagara Health System (NHS) Vice President Patient Services. “I would like to thank the public for its support of our visiting hours policy and co-operation with our infection prevention and control measures. I would also like to thank all of our staff for their teamwork and ongoing diligence and commitment. They routinely go above and beyond to ensure patients receive the best possible care while also managing the new norm of infection prevention and control measures.”

Under provincial legislation, a health-care facility must declare an outbreak when there are six or more new hospital-acquired cases of C. difficile in a specific unit over a 30-day period. When the C. difficile outbreak was declared on December 5, 2008, there were six confirmed cases of C. difficile and one suspected case of C. difficile on Unit C.

Throughout the outbreak period, the NHS’s Infection Prevention and Control team worked closely with the larger NHS health-care team as well as with the Niagara Public Health Department, the Regional Infection Control Network (RICN) and the Public Health Agency. RICN and the Public Health Agency are new resources established by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) through its initiative in patient safety and in infection prevention and control.

C. difficile is a bacteria found in the stool. The usual symptoms are mild but can be severe. Main symptoms are watery diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain/tenderness. Blood may or may not be present in the stools. In some cases, there may not be diarrhea. In severe cases, surgery may be needed and in extreme cases C. difficile may cause death. While C. difficile can be acquired in hospital, it can also be acquired in the community.

Healthy people are usually not at risk of serious infection. However, these organisms can cause harm to those who are seriously ill or have a poor immune system. These organisms can be treated, but preventive action helps all patients and staff.

For more information, please contact:

Caroline Bourque Wiley
Consultant, Public Affairs
905-378-4647, ext. 43113

Niagara Health System