The Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance (HPHA) – Stratford General Hospital Site declared a Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) outbreak in the Medicine / Integrated Stroke Unit on May 20, 2015. “In response to the outbreak, we are reminding everyone to clean their hands upon entering and exiting the hospital, patient care areas and patient rooms,” says Andrew Williams, HPHA President & CEO. “Hand washing is key to stopping the spread of bacteria.” C. difficile is a bacteria that can be found in people’s bowels and typically does not cause any problems or symptoms in healthy people. However, in some hospitalized patients, C. difficile can damage the lining of the bowel, causing diarrhea. “Most cases of C. difficile occur in patients who are taking certain antibiotics in high doses or over a prolonged period of time,” says Kerri Hannon, Infection Control Practitioner. “Some antibiotics can destroy a person’s normal bacteria found in the gut, causing C. difficile bacteria to grow. When this occurs, the C. difficile bacteria produce toxins, which can damage the bowel and cause diarrhea.” C. difficile is the most frequent cause of infectious diarrhea in hospitals and long-term care facilities in Canada, as well as in other industrialized countries. People at particular risk include those who have a history of antibiotic use, recent bowel surgery, chemotherapy, prolonged hospitalization, advanced age or a serious underlying illness or debilitation. Those visiting patients at the hospital are required to follow any posted instructions and are asked to limit their interaction to one patient per visit. Those visiting infected patients will be required to wear gloves and gowns and will have to wash their hands with soap and water after leaving the patient’s bedside.
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