Thursday, 16 February 1995
Dáil Éireann Debate
59. Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Health the number of diarrhoea cases which were recorded in St. James's Hospital, Dublin, for each week since 1 January 1995; the cause of the outbreak; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3529/95]
Minister for Health (Mr. Noonan,: Limerick East): I have been advised by the hospital authorities that this problem arose on 17 January 1995 when 20 patients were identified as having  diarrhoea and a number of specimens tested positive for clostridium difficile. The cases were distributed throughout the hospital. There was then a gradual increase in numbers with diarrhoea to 25 the following week and by Monday, 7 February the number had increased to 30, 50 per cent of whom had positive results from tests.
This type of infection is endemic in most hospitals and no specific cause can be found for the recent sudden upsurge in numbers. From 7 February the process of cohorting patients into two areas was commenced, appropriate review and controls were instituted on the administration of antibiotics and deep cleaning of areas where affected patients had been was carried out. There has been a gradual decline in numbers since that date.
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