A MEDICAL ward in Raigmore Hospital, Inverness has been closed after an outbreak of C.diff.
While there are periodically people in hospital with Clostridium difficile the two cases confirmed is higher than would be expected.
For this reason Ward 7C has been closed to new admissions and transfers.
NHS Highland has confirmed it is treating this as an outbreak.
C.diff is a bacterium which particularly affects patients on strong antibiotics.
It is spread in the faeces through bacteria and by spores which allow the bacteria to survive in the environment.
It is a serious problem for hospitals because many patients are on antibiotics and are also already sick which makes them susceptible.
Dr Jonty Mills, Consultant Microbiologist at Raigmore Hospital, said: We are obviously very disappointed that there has been an increase in cases. The situation is being closely monitored and is under control.
“The routine monitoring we have in place means we have been able to react quickly and take decisive action to contain the outbreak at an early stage.”
He said that when controlling Clostridium difficile there is no single solution, but measures being taken include:
• Closure of affected ward (7C) to eliminate the risk of cross infection to newly admitted patients and to allow specialist cleaning to happen.
• Isolation of symptomatic patients
• Increased frequency of routine cleaning
• Ongoing intensive surveillance across the hospital
• Limiting the use of broad spectrum antibiotics
• Scrupulous compliance with hand-hygiene by staff and visitors to reduce the risk of spread in the hospital environment
• Heightened awareness of control measures among staff, patients and visitors
Dr Mills said: “The risks to healthy patients, visitors and staff is minimal.
“The actions we are taking are largely to reduce the risk of the infection spreading within the ward environment. Staff will be contacting relatives of patients in the affected area to advise them of the situation and to discuss visiting arrangements.”