C. difficile outbreak over in Sydney hospital
The Cape Breton District Health Authority says an outbreak of Clostridium difficile at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital is now over.
Six deaths have been linked with the hospital-acquired bacterial infection since mid-December — the second outbreak of C. difficile at the hospital in less than a year.
Dr. Shoaib Ansari, the infectious disease specialist at the Cape Breton District Health Authority, said there would likely be another outbreak.
"C. difficile is something we will never be able to get rid of," Ansari told CBC News on Friday.
He said although only one person from the current outbreak remains in hospital with C. difficile, it is not the only case of the infection currently being treated at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital.
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 the bacteria was implicated in six hospital deaths.
Ansari said typically, there are a couple of cases of C. difficile every month and the key is to stop the bacteria from spreading and becoming a cluster.
"The only thing that we can do is try to maintain hypervigilance," he said.
"But it's humanly impossible to maintain and to be able to maintain a hypervigilant barrier 24 hours a day, 365 days a year."
By hypervigilance, Ansari means testing for C. difficile if a patient shows any symptoms at all of diarrhea or abdominal upset — then isolating that person if necessary and restricting visitors.
He said while extra attention is being paid to cleaning rooms and disposing of waste, the regional hospital is more likely to see cases of the infection because patients are often sicker and need more complex care than at other facilities.
"I can say it with absolute surety, we will never get rid of C. difficile, we will always get these cases every year," said Ansari.
"These cases will almost always occur at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital in Sydney."