si-nb-dumont-hospital-220

The Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital had a C. difficile outbreak in January. (Vitalité Health Network)

The Vitalité Health Network has released statistics on how many cases of so-called superbugs it had in 2012-13.

C. difficile numbers were only provided for the Dr. Georges-L-Dumont University Hospital — and only for a handful of months.

The hospital, located in Moncton, had seven cases in July, eight in August, seven in September and seven in November, the statistics show.

In the other months during that reporting period the number of cases at the hospital was five or less.

Vitalite said it suppressed that information to protect patient confidentiality, given the small number of cases.

Clostridium difficile, or C. difficile, originates from stool and is found mostly in hospitals. It causes flu-like symptoms and in severe cases it can be fatal.

The New Brunswick Health Council says the target rate for this infection is 0.6, based on an average from other provinces.

The rate is calculated by dividing the total number of new cases of C. difficile infections by the total number of patient days for that period and then multiplying by 1,000 patient days.

The Dr. Georges-L-Dumont rate hit 0.72 in July and peaked at 0.79 in August.

Last fall, the hospital started an intensive cleanup effort, scrubbing floors, walls, beds and curtains with chlorine.

The rate of infection has since dropped to 0.31 in February, the most recent figures available.

C. difficile infection numbers for the other hospitals in the health network were not released.

A spokesperson said that is because there were five, or fewer than five cases, each month at those hospitals during the reporting period in 2012-13.

MRSA numbers low

Meanwhile, the number of MRSA — methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus — cases at all of Vitalité's 11 facilities in 2012-13 were not reported because they were so low.

"For confidentiality reasons, the number of cases equal to or less than five are suppressed," the charts state.

Only the number of patient days and the infection rates were provided.

The April rate for the Dr. Georges-L-Dumont hospital was 0.10.

For the remaining months, across the health network, all hospitals reported an infection rate of zero.

Staphylococcus aureus bacteria are commonly found on the skin and can cause a range of problems, from a minor infection in a cut to life-threatening disease. MRSA strains are those that have become immune to the effects of the main antibiotics used to combat the bacteria.

The Horizon Health Network released its superbug statistics last Friday.

Those figures showed fewer cases of C. difficile and MRSA reported in each of its 10 hospitals over the last 21 months.

Both health authorities had originally refused to disclose the information after a request by CBC News under the province’s Right to Information Act.

The original request was made to the Department of Health in January after the Dr. Georges-L-Dumont University Hospital underwent a thorough cleaning following a spike in C. difficile infections.

Dr. Eilish Cleary, the province’s chief medical officer of health, has said the number of C. difficile cases for both health networks will be available online in May.

Similar statistics for infections, such as MRSA, will be made available in the future, Cleary has said.