Update on C. difficile outbreaks

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Posted Jul 7th, 2011

A third patient related to the C. difficile outbreak at the Welland Site has died.

 “We care deeply about our patients, and on behalf of the hospital, I would like to extend our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the patient,” says Dr. Joanna Hope, Interim Chief of Staff for the Niagara Health System (NHS). “This patient had serious underlying health issues and also tested positive for C. difficile. The death will be reviewed to determine what role C. difficile had or did not have in their death. This patient’s death has also been reported to the Coroner.”

The hospital will make public the results of the reviews of all C. difficile-related deaths once meetings with the patient families are complete. Seventeen deaths related to C. difficile have now been reported since the outbreak began at the St. Catharines General Site on May 28. This includes 10 deaths at St. Catharines General, four deaths at the Greater Niagara General, and three deaths at the Welland Site. Outbreaks were declared June 23 at the Greater Niagara General andWellandsites.

“This is an extremely challenging time for everyone,” says Dr. Hope. “Our efforts are focused on bringing the outbreaks to conclusion as quickly as possible. We continue to work closely with Niagara Region Public Health to manage the outbreaks and are accessing expert resources for their advice and assistance.”

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.

Niagara Health System