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The accepted method of tackling the hospital superbug Clostridium difficile should be reviewed in the wake of epidemics linked to a “new hyper-virulent strain”, according to a European watchdog.
The PCR ribotype 027 strain was traced as the cause of many of the cases in two outbreaks at Aylesbury’s Stoke Mandeville Hospital in 2004 and 2005, where more than 30 people died.
As a result of this and other outbreaks in Belgium, Germany, Finland, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the UK and elsewhere, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has called for existing guidelines to be reviewed.
Figures released in July showed that rates of C difficile among the over-65s in England rose 6% between January and March this year. However, compared with the same quarter last year, the 10,586 cases signify a 32% reduction.
The report recommends that all EU member states are aware of C difficile in healthcare facilities, and pay particular attention to the PCR ribotype 027 strain.
The report calls for: “Evidence-based guidelines to prevent the spread of C difficile should combine early diagnosis, surveillance, education of staff, appropriate isolation precautions, hand hygiene, use of protective clothing, environmental cleaning and cleaning of medical equipment, good antibiotic stewardship and specific measures during outbreaks.”
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