Page last updated at 10:44 GMT, Monday, 4 August 2008 11:44 UK

Eight more deaths linked to bug

A total of 19 new cases were identified last month

The C Difficile bug contributed towards eight more deaths in Northern Trust hospitals during July.

The Trust said the number reflected the high number of cases of C Diff at the start of the year.

A total of 19 new cases were identified last month - four fewer than the previous month.

"There is considerably less transmission of the infection within Trust hospitals," said the trust's medical director Dr Peter Flanagan.

More than 60 deaths in the trust have been provisionally linked to the bug so far this year.

Dr Flanagan said while infection rates were falling, there had been an increase the number of relapsed cases.

"This is a reflection of the nature of the illness that can reoccur in some patients for several months depending on the patient's primary condition and whether there is a need to prescribe further antibiotic treatment," said Dr Flanagan.

"All of these patients have low levels of immunity to infection. We are also seeing an increase in the number of patients developing symptoms within 48 hours of admission to hospital which indicates that they were infected when admitted."

Elderly patients are most at risk from the C diff bug, with over 80% of cases reported in the over 65 age group.

In February, the health minister set up an independent review to look at how all the trusts were managing.

An interim report has called for more single rooms to isolate patients with infections and more checks to ensure staff are washing their hands.

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