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Deadly and spreading, superbug on the loose in Ontario hospitals

The Globe and Mail, July 8, 2011

Ontario hospitals are bracing for an influx of a highly contagious superbug that has already claimed the lives of at least 18 elderly patients in the province. One in 14 hospitals in Ontario were dealing with an outbreak of Clostridium difficile. commonly known as C. difficile, according to statistics collected by the Ministry of Health for the month of May. While some have since been taken off the list, several others have been hit with their own outbreaks in recent weeks. Health-care practitioners say it is not just the spike in cases that is a concern. They are also worried about the virulence of the strain, the same one that killed 2,000 people in Quebec a few years ago and that Australia is now struggling to contain. While officials scramble to contain the outbreaks in Ontario, an infectious-bacteria expert is warning that hospitals are going about tackling the problem the wrong way.