OUTBREAK UPDATE: Third C. difficile patient at Niagara Falls hospital dies

JOHN ROBBINS/Bullet News

Clostridium difficile

Image by AJC1 via Flickr

NIAGARA FALLS – A third patient associated with a C. difficile outbreak at Greater Niagara General hospital has died.

Niagara Health System officials said Tuesday the patient, who died Jan. 27, had multiple health issues and had tested positive for hospital-associated C. difficile.

“We extend our sincere sympathies to the family members and loved ones,” NHS officials said in a statement.

“The NHS team is working extremely hard to combat superbugs and end our outbreak. This patient’s death is deeply discouraging and upsetting to all our team members.”

The coroner’s office has been notified of the death and the case is being reviewed by NHS medical staff to determine what role, if any, C. difficile played.  The outbreak on GNGH’s in-patient Unit D medical ward was declared on Dec. 7.  The total number of C. difficile cases associated with the outbreak is eight.  Currently on Unit D, there are four hospital-associated C. difficile cases and four community-acquired cases.  Clostridium difficile (C.difficile) causes diarrhea and is one of the most common infections in hospitals and long-term care facilities. It’s also found in the community and sometimes enters hospitals that way.  About three to five per cent of healthy adults carry C. difficile around in their bowels and something like 50 per cent of infants.  Healthy adults and infants rarely get sick from C. difficile, because their bodies are able to keep the bad bacteria in check.  People most at risk after exposure to C. difficile, or those already exposed to it, are those of advanced age 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 produce toxins that cause illness.

Proper hand-hygiene is one of the best ways of controlling the spread of C. difficile and other hospital infections, experts say.

Courtesy Bullet News Niagara

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