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Patient with C. difficile dead in Hamilton hospital outbreak

C. difficile

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

One patient infected with C. difficile died earlier this month at St. Joseph's Healthcare's Charlton Campus, a spokesperson for the hospital confirmed Monday.

Hamilton Public Health declared a C. difficile outbreak on Sunday after 11 hospital-associated cases of the superbug were reported at Charlton Campus, the hospital's main site.

"A patient at St. Joseph's with C. difficile did pass away," Kyla Kumar, public affairs manager for St. Joseph's Healthcare, said in an email. Ms. Kumar said a review of the patient's medical history and why they were admitted to the hospital is under way to determine whether patient died from C. difficile or other causes.

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"At this point, it appears that C. difficile did not play a significant role in this individual's death."

Infected patients at the hospital have been placed in isolation rooms, which are cleaned twice daily with bleached-based cleaners. To reduce transmission and prevent new cases, the hospital has increased awareness of its hygiene measures. Signs warning of the outbreak are posted around the hospital, and all staff and visitors must wash their hands when entering and exiting the premises. Common areas will receive additional cleaning to fight the spread of the superbug, the hospital said in a news release.

Sixteen cases of the superbug have emerged at the hospital this summer: three in June and 13 in July. St. Joseph's Healthcare said the person who died was over 85 years old and caught C. difficile in the hospital.

An outbreak of the superbug at the hospital in late 2010 and early 2011 resulted in more than 100 cases and 16 deaths.

C. difficile, a bacteria that spreads through contact with bodily fluids, flourishes in the bowels and can cause severe diarrhea and fever. The elderly, people with weakened immune systems and those on antibiotics are particularly vulnerable to the superbug, which is one of the most common infections in hospitals and long-term care facilities.

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