Edmonton

C. difficile increase at Sturgeon hospital vexes AHS

New cleaning products are being tested at St. Albert's Sturgeon community hospital to deal with an increase in the number of patients getting C. difficile.

Number of cases reported between April and June almost double over last year

Dr. Mark Joffe, shown here unveiling new protective equipment for dealing with Ebola last year, is investigating a rise in C. difficile infections at St. Albert's Sturgeon Community Hospital. (Marion Warnica/CBC)

New cleaning products are being tested at St. Albert's Sturgeon hospital to deal with an increase in the number of patients getting Clostridium difficile.

C. difficile is an infection that can be serious, causing diarrhea and inflammation.

It is most often acquired in hospitals, and outbreaks are a challenge to contain because the disease is highly contagious.

Between 13 and 17 cases were reported at the Sturgeon Community Hospital in St. Albert between April and June, up from 6 to 10 cases during the same period last year.

"We may switch to different cleaning products if we are concerned about Clostridium difficile," said  Dr. Mark Joffe, senior medical director for infection prevention and control with Alberta Health Services.

"Some products work better than others," he said. "Same thing with cleaning of equipment that may be shared between different patients."

A new strain of the bacteria could be the reason hospital officials are seeing an increase in cases, but better reporting may be responsible as well, meaning cases that were missed before are now be being identified, Joffe said.

"There are some standard treatment orders that are now being used to make sure that every patient is managed the same way, that tests are done, that the right antibiotics are used for treatment," he said. 

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