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Two patients recently diagnosed with the Clostridium difficile bacteria have died at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital. (CBC)

Two patients recently diagnosed with the Clostridium difficile bacteria have died at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital.

The Cape Breton District Health Authority said in a release that one of the patients acquired C. difficile in the hospital, but an initial review determined it was not the patient's cause of death.

While the second patient's cause of death was identified as C. difficile, the health authority said the infection was not acquired at the hospital or releated to the current outbreak at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital.

"While the patient deaths and ongoing cases are unfortunate, they are not unexpected," said the release.

"The number of inpatient cases may rise and fall and additional deaths are possible with this type of outbreak. The district also expects that it could be dealing with an outbreak for at least several more weeks."

Nine patients in the hospital are still being treated for the infection and visitor restrictions remain in place at two units — the Intermediate Care Unit and Unit 4B.

A representative from Infection Prevention Control Nova Scotia visited the hospital earlier this week and found there were cases where the waste in bedpans and commodes was not being emptied in the appropriate areas.

The health authority said those "breaks in precaution" may have contributed to the current outbreak of C. difficile.

"In addition, the earlier identification and testing of patients with diarrhea and putting precautions in place sooner has been made a priority," said the release.

"Patients and families can also help by asking or reminding care givers to clean their hands."

C. difficile is a bacteria which causes diarrhea and abdominal pain and is spread person to person. It is commonly found in the intestine, but infections can be life-threatening for those taking antibiotics or who have serious pre-existing health issues.

Last spring, an outbreak was declared when 49 patients across the district contracted C. difficile and bacteria was implicated in six hospital deaths.