07/10/2011 02:36 EDT | Updated 09/09/2011 05:12 EDT

Ontario Hospitals Fighting C. Difficile Outbreak Falls To Seven


THE CANADIAN PRESS -- TORONTO - The number of Ontario hospitals battling C. difficile outbreaks has fallen to seven, the province said Sunday.

Ontario's acting chief medical officer, Dr. David Williams, said the Addington General Hospital in Napanee, Ont., was the latest to contain the spread of the bacterial disease.

Two hospitals, in Hamilton and Toronto, ended their C. difficile outbreaks on Friday, bringing the centres battling the infection to eight before the weekend.

Twenty people who had the infection have died since outbreaks started hitting hospitals across the province in late May.

Hospitals in Guelph, St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, Welland, Orangeville and Mississauga continue to fight cases of those infected with the bacteria.

Williams said it could take weeks before outbreaks at those centres are considered over.

Hospitals must wait 30 days after every case of C. difficile acquired in hospital has cleared before calling off an outbreak.

"This is a fairly short-term outbreak, it's only in its third or fourth week," Williams said.

"Usually the larger centres go for three to four months to get that clearance."

Dr. Vivek Goel, president and CEO of Ontario Public Health, said experts will be working to determine whether the outbreaks are related.

"You can't really definitively establish whether it moves around, but what you can look for is the strain types and are they the same type across all the sites," he said.

The bacterial disease, which causes severe diarrhea, generally affects vulnerable patients who have taken antibiotics.

C. difficile is typically spread in hospitals through contact with fecal matter.

But, Gole stressed, people shouldn't be afraid to go to the hospital if they need medical care.