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Superbug infections growing in Washington state

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  • Superbug infections growing in Washington state


    Superbug infections growing in Washington state
    07:56 AM PDT on Thursday, May 29, 2008

    SEATTLE - A dangerous superbug that strikes in hospitals and nursing homes is now blamed for more deaths nationwide than all other intestinal infections combined. That's not all: "c-diff" is growing at an alarming rate here in Washington state.

    Hospitals are using diluted bleach to mop floors and c-diff patients are kept in single rooms. The Seattle Times reports another case at the VA hospital in Seattle, where they had a outbreak just over a year ago.

    C-diff is short for clostridium difficile colitis, bacteria that lives in the colon and cause diarrhea. It spreads when an infected person doesn't wash their hands.

    According to a national study by the University of Massachusetts, the number of patients getting c-diff has grown by more than 10,000 cases a year. Nearly 300,000 people were hospitalized in 2005, double the 2000 cases.

    In Washington alone, the Seattle Times reports, 4,100 cases last year with 259 people dying with c-diff, though they say the infection may not have been the primary cause of death. We know c-diff spreads by spores in feces and hits mostly people over 65, though teenagers lax at hygiene may be at risk too.

    Infection control programs have reportedly been beefed up throughout Washington, but experts say good hygiene and hot soapy water are the best ways to get rid of bad bacteria versus some antibiotics that actually help c-diff spread.

    The wrong antibiotic can kill beneficial bacteria, which then opens the door for c-diff to spread.

    The superbug hit Canada hard, killing 1,000 in Quebec.