The Cape Breton District Health Authority says the number of people getting the hospital-based infection C. difficile is down.

In the past week there were no new cases of C. difficile and only three infected patients in Cape Breton hospitals.

C. difficile is the most frequent cause of infectious diarrhea in Canadian hospitals and long-term care facilities. Symptoms include watery diarrhea, fever, loss of appetite, nausea and abdominal pain or tenderness.

Last spring, 11 deaths were linked to the infection.

"I am really pleased to be able to say that we've made significant progress," said Dianne Calvert Simms, CEO of the Cape Breton District Health Authority.

So far the district has had two outbreaks — one in the spring of 2011 and the other in December 2011.

Federal and provincial agencies were in brought in to make recommendations. One of the things they found was a delay between infections breaking out and the health authority realizing it had a problem.

A report in June said it's critical that staff and physicians comply with the district's hand hygiene policy if outbreaks of the often-fatal infections are to be kept under control.

Simms said they have a new system to keep track of both.

"Our electronic surveillance is up and running and what that means is this can give us real time reporting, not only our results from our lab results, but also from our hand hygiene audits so we're very pleased to have that database," she said.

Simms said they also have monitors visiting floors and keeping an eye on hand washing practices.

She said the province has supported the purchase of new equipment, sinks and furniture that won't carry infection.