Ottawa

C. difficile swat team tries to halt rise in superbug cases

The bacterial microbes responsible for an often fatal superbug have no place to hide from Dr. Virginia Roth's anti-bacteria squad, whose mission is to wipe them out.
Ottawa General puts together anti-bacteria commando team to wipe out potentially killer germs. 1:43

After Dr. Virginia Roth of the Ottawa Hospital’s General campus noticed cases of C. difficile, an antibiotic resistant bug found in fecal matter, had doubled over the past year, she wasted little time in assembling a team of sanitizing commandos.

"We've not put them in uniform, but they're well known in the hospital," said Roth, director of infection control at the hospital.

With help from Ontario Public Health, Roth assembled a medical SWAT team comprised of nurses, infection experts and even housekeepers, to help contain the bacteria.

"They're really rapid response teams that go quickly up to the unit when we see a case," explained Roth. "And they make sure we're meeting the highest infection control standards."

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.  

Roth says seniors are at the highest risk of contracting C. difficile.

"It's a bacteria that's hard to kill and we happen to miss that one little surface, it can be there for the next patient and the next patient that comes," she said.

Roth believes the increase in C. difficile likely stems from busier emergency rooms and Ottawa General, she says, has been admitting and discharging patients more quickly, leading to higher levels of bacteria transfer.

When a patient is diagnosed with C. difficile, his or her room is cleaned and disinfected twice each day.

Roth said she'd have a better idea of how effective her SWAT team has been in one month.

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