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Review urged over new bug strain

Several cases of a “new hyper-virulent strain” of Clostridium difficile have led to calls for a review of guidelines on tackling the hospital bug.

The PCR ribotype 027 strain caused many of the cases in two outbreaks at Aylesbury’s Stoke Mandeville Hospital in 2004 and 2005. More than 30 people died as a consequence of contracting C difficile at the hospital.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has now called for existing guidelines to be reviewed.

It said there had been outbreaks in nine countries including Belgium, Germany, Finland, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the UK.

The strain has also been detected in Austria, Denmark, Hungary, Norway, Poland, Spain and Sweden, and in Scotland, it said.

An ECDC 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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