Newspaper article The Canadian Press

C. Difficile Cases Fall 36 per Cent in Hospitals, Better Infection Control Credited

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

C. Difficile Cases Fall 36 per Cent in Hospitals, Better Infection Control Credited

Article excerpt

C. diff cases fall 36 per cent in hospitals

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TORONTO - Rates of Clostridium difficile, an often recurring bacterial infection of the colon that causes debilitating diarrhea, have fallen dramatically in hospitals across Canada since 2009, a study has found.

In a study published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, researchers report that hospital-associated C. difficile infections dropped by 36 per cent between 2009 and 2015.

"There's probably a number of interventions that led to that decrease," said lead author Dr. Kevin Katz, medical director of infection prevention and control at North York General Hospital in Toronto.

Improvements in infection-control measures, such as improved testing, more judicious use of antibiotics, frequent hand-washing and more frequent, intense cleaning of hospital facilities in the last decade may have contributed to the drop in infection rates, he said.

While a virulent form of C. difficile known as NAP1 was found to be the most common strain affecting patients during the seven-year study, the proportion of cases it caused compared to other strains had also diminished, researchers said.

C. difficile is the most common infectious cause of diarrhea in hospitalized patients in developed countries, leading to severe illness and in some cases death. Seniors and people taking antibiotics are most vulnerable to the infection.

Broad-spectrum antibiotics taken for another infection can kill so-called good bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, allowing C. difficile to flourish in those exposed to the bug.

C. difficile bacteria produce a toxin, which causes inflammation of the colon. The microbe also creates difficult-to-eradicate spores, which can contaminate surfaces in hospital rooms and rapidly spread the infection.

Doctors treat C. diff with more targeted antibiotics, but the bacteria have developed resistance to some of them, often making the illness more challenging to overcome.

NAP1, which is resistant to fluoroquinolone antibiotics, has been responsible for a number of hospital-associated outbreaks over the years, including a Quebec epidemic that began in 2002. …

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