Superbug linked to 17 hospital deaths

STEPHEN PULLINGER A Norfolk hospital is fighting a deadly strain of a super bug detected after a dramatic rise in deaths.

STEPHEN PULLINGER

A Norfolk hospital is fighting a deadly strain of a super bug detected after a dramatic rise in deaths.

Seventeen patients have died at Gorleston's James Paget University Hospital (JPH) since the start of December after contracting clostridium difficile (C diff) - in some cases it has been recorded as the primary cause of death.

Five others have had to undergo major bowel surgery, while 11 are currently being treated for the bug in side rooms isolated from wards.

Victims have nearly all been aged over 65 and a high risk factor is if they have been treated with certain types of antibiotics that kill common gut bacteria exposing them to the antibiotic-resistant C diff.

Tests completed earlier this month revealed the hospital is harbouring the virulent 027 strain of the bug, first detected in North America in 2001, which causes far more severe illness than the normal diarrhoea.

Most Read

Since the problem was detected in January, bosses at the JPH have been liaising with the Health Protection Agency and other local health agencies, including GP surgeries, and giving advice to staff, patients and visitors.

Hospital chief executive Wendy Slaney said today they had decided to make the issue known to a wider public to further help in the fight against the bug, which, from previous experience, could take several weeks to get under control.

Visitors are requested to stick to visiting times, and adhere to rules such as only having two visitors at each bed. The need to wash hands with soap and water is also highlighted as the normal hand gel outside wards is ineffective.