Hospital helps to find new cure for superbug C-diff

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A hospital whose ‘serious failings’ seven years ago led to the spread of a deadly superbug has now helped find a treatment for the infection.

Stoke Mandeville Hospital was one of 15 centres to be used to test the new drug aimed at treating the Clostridium difficile bacterium.

Two outbreaks of the bug at the Aylesbury hospital between October 2003 and June 2005, led to the infection of 334 patients and at least 33 deaths.

Stoke Mandeville was used to test out a variety of drugs to treat the infection, including antibiotic DIFCLIR or fidaxomicin which has now been launched for use. It was one of just 15 centres across the UK to be used in the trials.

Professor Robert Masterton, director of the Institute of Healthcare Associated Infection at the University of the West of Scotland, said: “Clostridium difficile is a major cause of hospital-acquired infection and its high relapse rate leads to prolonged hospital stays, an increased risk of death and a considerable burden on NHS budgets.

“The launch of fidaxomicin represents a significant milestone in combating the devastating impact of this disease

as it’s the first new antibiotic specifically for the infection and the first treatment to

show any benefit in reducing the risk of Clostridium

difficile recurrence.

“I have high hopes that it will provide a significant benefit to patients in the UK.”

Clostridium difficile, which results from a bacterial infection of the internal lining of the colon, is one of the most common healthcare-acquired infections in the UK.

It is a significant problem in hospitals, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Severe cases can require bowel surgery and even lead to death.

Graziella Kontkowski, founder of the Clostridium difficile support patient organisation, said: “The infection is commonly known to affect the elderly but it also affects young people, leaving their everyday lives severely impacted. This new treatment is a breakthrough for patients but even more so for those suffering recurrences of the infection. I would like to hope that with this new treatment, recurrences of the bug will soon be a thing of the past.”

Since the outbreak of the infection, Stoke Mandeville Hospital has been taken over by new management and new procedures put in place.