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The Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital hopes to have every ward cleaned by mid-January. (Vitalité Health Network)

A Moncton hospital is expanding its efforts to get rid of a C. difficile outbreak by disinfecting every ward and asking visitors to stay away.

The Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre had closed parts of the emergency room last month for cleaning after the rate of infection for the dangerous and highly contagious bacteria had tripled.

"The primary focus was obviously the emergency department because of the fact it is a high transit area where you have the possibility of having more acute cases," said Luc Foulem, a hospital spokesperson.

The rate of infection among patients appears to have decreased since the cleaning began, he said.

But staff are now cleaning the rest of the hospital.

"It was determined that a thorough cleaning of all the units at the hospital was the proper course of action to take," Foulem said.

It will take between two and five days to clean the floors, walls, beds and curtains in each ward, he said, estimating the work will be completed by mid-January.

Meanwhile, visitors will not be allowed to see patients on the wards being cleaned, said Foulem.

"So we just ask the public to inquire ahead to make sure they can come visit friends or family that are at the hospital," he said.

Visitors and staff must also wash their hands before going to the hospital and before leaving, he said.

C. difficile spreads by spores and preys on the elderly and the weak.

Symptoms of the sometimes-fatal bacteria include watery diarrhea, fever, loss of appetite, nausea and abdominal pain or tenderness.

Officials have said the rate of infection at the hospital jumped in part due to the number of chronic care patients who can't get into nursing homes.

Frequent hand washing with warm, soapy water is considered the best defence against the infection.