C. difficile outbreak linked to fatal strain
Published Wednesday, February 28, 2007 11:08PM EST
Fourteen people have been diagnosed with C. difficile at a Mississauga, Ont. hospital, and at least one of four people who tested positive after death had the same strain that proved deadly in Quebec.
But officials at the Trillium Health Centre have not been able to determine if C. difficile was responsible for the four deaths over the last two months, the hospital said in a written statement.
In response to the outbreak, the hospital is implementing a plan to "minimize" the number of infections and reduce the chances of spreading the bacterium.
"All the affected patients are in private rooms," hospital spokesperson Roula Giannidis said Wednesday.
"They're on contact precaution. Any visitors, any family that comes to see them, any health-care providers are taking the appropriate precautions in that they're washing their hands, wearing gloves and gowns; all the necessary precautions to minimize the spread of the germs."
A written statement from the hospital said "strict infection control protocols" were already in place at the facility. But Trillium is "working closely" with Peel Public Health authorities to make sure the hospital's plan is "as comprehensive as possible."
The hospital added that the risk to the community is low. But officials encouraged patients and family members to follow basic handwashing practices when visiting.
"The average person shouldn't be afraid to come to the hospital or be afraid they're going to contract C. difficile," Giannidis said.
Meanwhile, CTV News has learned new cases of C. difficile have been confirmed at another Greater Toronto Area hospital.
Scarborough Hospital General Division has diagnosed several patients with having the bacterium, CTV's Tom Hayes reports.
"There are probably three people in the house who have this, (are) getting better or still quite symptomatic," infection control manager Joanne Braithwaite said.
The strain did not spread from the Mississauga infection and no one has died, Hayes reports.
Braithwaite says there are probably cases in every Toronto-area hospital.
While hospitals in the developed world have been dealing with C. difficile infections for 30 years, in recent years strains of the bacterium have become stronger and more resistant to antibiotics.
Last year, a committee set up by Ontario's chief coroner found that C. difficile was behind 10 deaths at a Sault Ste. Marie hospital. The committee investigated 26 deaths, which were thought to be related to the bacterial infection.
In recent years, hospitals in Quebec have struggled with numerous outbreaks. As recently as December, a person died in a Montreal-area facility due to C. difficile bacteria, bringing the toll at Honore-Mercier hospital to 16.
The Quebec government ordered a coroner's inquest into the deaths. An internal report at the hospital cited poor hygiene for the outbreak.
Clostridium difficile is a bacterium that causes diarrhea and more serious intestinal conditions, such as colitis. It is considered to be one of the most common infections found in hospitals and long-term care facilities.
Antibiotic treatments increase the likelihood of developing C. difficile. The drugs lower the levels of good bacteria found in the intestines and colon, allowing C. difficile to thrive.
The Public Health Agency of Canada's website says that the combined factors of the presence of C. difficile in health care facilities, combined with the number of people using antibiotics "can lead to frequent outbreaks."
With a report from CTV's Tom Hayes and files from The Canadian Press