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Two more deaths, but C.Diff outbreak is over, says trust

By Emily Moulton

Two more people died and another 11 people contracted the deadly Clostridium Difficile infection in Northern Trust hospitals last month, it has emerged.

Last night, a trust spokeswoman confirmed the deaths as well as the new cases but would not say which hospitals the patients contracted the bug from.

Over the past year, the Northern Health and Social Care Trust has been dealing with an outbreak of the mainly hospital acquired C.Difficile but last night declared the outbreak was over.

There have been 61 deaths provisionally linked to the bug since the outbreak took hold last summer — with 40 of those patients having died since the beginning of this year.

Since the outbreak, the Northern Trust said it had introduced a rigorous “three-pronged approach” to tackle the bug and was confident it was able to declare it was over because there had been a sustained reduction in the number of new cases and there was no evidence of recent transmission.

“The Northern Trust has declared the outbreak of C.Difficile infection over as at August 31, 2008,” the spokeswoman said. “There were 11 new cases within the trust during the month of August 2008, which is the lowest in over 20 months.

“Sadly during the month two patients died with C.Difficile recorded as an associated factor on their death certificate.

“Throughout the course of the outbreak we have consistently applied a three-pronged approach: of rigorous antibiotic management; infection control procedures and enhancement of environmental cleaning.”

C.Difficile, which causes severe diarrhoea and can damage the bowel, was involved in at least 77 deaths of people in Northern Ireland last year.

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