Five die in hospital superbug outbreak

An outbreak of the Clostridium difficile (C. diff) superbug has killed two hospital patients and contributed to the deaths of three more.

The patients were among a total of eight elderly people who contracted the infection at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee over an 18 day period.

All of those affected had been in the hospital’s ward 31, which generally cares for geriatric patients.

Seven of the patients had contracted the more dangerous 027 strain.

NHS Tayside said it carried out regular testing in order to detect C. diff outbreaks early.

Dr Gabby Phillips, lead infection control doctor for Ninewells Hospital, said the ward remained closed to new admissions.

The hospital has been dealing with the outbreak since September, over a 10 week period.

The deaths occurred between 19 October and 6 November.

‘Appropriate measures’

Dr Phillips added: “We have comprehensive infection monitoring procedures throughout our hospitals and these are able to rapidly identify any emerging trends of infection which then trigger a rapid response from our infection control teams.

“These cases of C. diff infection were detected very early which meant we were then able to identify the 027 strain rapidly and reinforce all appropriate infection control measures.

She added that the hospital had sought external advice over its policies and procedures, and had been “reassured that our surveillance systems are robust”.

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