UPDATED — Sept. 28, 3 p.m.
It's difficult to say when the rate of C-Difficile will go back to normal levels at Sudbury Regional Hospital, according to the hospital's vice-president of clinical programs and chief nursing officer.
The hospital announced it had an outbreak Sept. 24 after six patients on the sixth floor of the hospital's South Tower were diagnosed as having C-Difficile. The sixth floor of the South Tower is home to general medicine and respiratory medicine.
“C-Difficile is an indicator that we track,” McNeil said.
“It's a provincial safety indicator. We publicly report our base rates and our monthly rates, and we post those on our website.
“We have been observing, on one of our units, a bit of a higher rate of C-Difficile occurrence. A definition of a C-Difficile outbreak is a rate above what your normal base rate would be.”
Visitor restrictions are in place for the infected patients.
According to a statement posted on the hospital's website, infection prevention and control measures, including enhanced screening of patients, isolation precautions, strict hand hygiene and environmental cleaning have been enacted.
Visitors are being reminded to clean their hands, with either soap and water or an alcohol based hand rub, before and after visiting a patient, as well as upon entering and leaving the hospital.
According to information provided on Health Canada's website, C-Difficile is one of the most common infections found in hospitals and long-term care facilities.
The bacteria are found in feces. People can become infected if they touch items or surfaces that are contaminated with fecal traces, then touch their mouth or nose.
Health care workers can spread the bacteria to other patients or contaminate surfaces through hand contact.
The use of antibiotics increases the chances of developing C-Difficile diarrhea because antibiotics alter the normal levels of good bacteria found in the intestines and colon. When there are fewer good bacteria, C-Difficile can thrive and produce toxins that can cause an infection.
Most commonly, the infection causes diarrhea, which can lead to serious complications, including dehydration and colitis. In rare cases, it can be fatal.
“There is a mortality rate (with C-Difficile),” McNeil said. “We haven't seen any deaths as a result of the C-Difficile. But in severe cases, mortality is always a potential issue, particularly for your very sick and frail.”