04/12/2013 11:28 EDT | Updated 06/12/2013 05:12 EDT

Newfoundland authority confirms two cases of hospital-transmitted C. difficile

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - Newfoundland's largest health authority has confirmed two cases of C. difficile infections previously identified at the Health Sciences Centre in St. John's were likely acquired within the hospital.

On March 18, the authority said six patients in the same unit had contracted C. difficile.

Upon further review, it was determined that another person in the unit had tested positive for C.difficile in early February.

Two of the patients have since died, but Eastern Health says it has determined that C.difficile was not the cause.

Samples from the seven patients were sent to National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, where it was determined two patients picked up the infection in the hospital.

C. difficile is a serious gastrointestinal illness that causes severe diarrhea and is often caused by the overuse of antibiotics.

The bacteria can survive for long periods of time on surfaces, making it critical for health-care providers to follow proper hygiene practices.