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Lethal Hospital Bug Tough to Knock Down, Statistics Reveal

There is both good and bad news in the report released by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) of Britain.//

The report looks at figures representing cases of infection by bugs including the potentially lethal hospital bug, Clostridium difficile and the ‘super bug’ MRSA.

According to the released statistics the figures for Clostridium infections have risen drastically by 5.5 percent, which represents an increase to 42,625 from 40,390 cases over the first three quarters of 2006.

The infection causes up to 2000 deaths an year.

The statistics show the failure by authorities to hamper the growing threat of these bacteria.

The accounted cases were gathered from elders above 65 years as the majority of infections strike this age group.

"Cases of Clostridium difficile infection continue to rise: there may be some slowing down in the rate of increase, but it is too early to say for sure.

"We will need to await further figures to assess whether initiatives that have been put in place are having an effect”, opines Dr. Georgia Duckworth, head of the Agency's Healthcare Associated Infection and Antimicrobial Resistance Department.

Healthcare Commission chief executive Anna Walker says: "Although the rates of C.diff are now rising less quickly, this increase will still cause concern to patients.”

Clostridium difficile is a common gut-living bacterium found in healthy people. It does not normally become a problem unless the balance of gut bacteria is upset by illness, or also by treatments such as antibiotics.

Symptoms range from nothing at all to very bad diarrhea, and in a few cases it can lead to potentially fatal bowel inflammations.

Hospital environments are favorable breeding grounds because they have large groups of people in close proximity, and who may be in a vulnerable state with compromised immune systems or receiving antibiotic treatments.

Regarding the number of MRSA cases in England, there was a fall by 5 per cent, i.e. 3,391 reports for that period as against 3,570 for the same time frame in 2005.

Welcoming the reduction in MRSA levels, Health Minister Lord Hunt has revealed that NHS Trusts had applied for 90 per cent of a £50 million Government fund to help hospitals install new facilities to tackle infections.

He says: The NHS has been working hard to tackle infections and I commend those trusts that are showing improvement.

MRSA infections cause anything from a mild irritation to boils, and in extreme cases it can develop into necrotizing fasciitis, or flesh-eating disease.

The best way to protect against infection by either bug is to be scrupulous about hygiene, to remove the opportunity for passing from person to person and to remove sites where the germs can lie dormant.

Breeding grounds of both these bacteria include public washrooms and taps, doorknobs, washcloths, towels etc.

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