Britain's deadly bug possibly imported from U.S. or Canada

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Wednesday, June 8, 2005

A hardy new strain of a deadly bacteria that has killed 12 elderly patients and infected 300 others in a British hospital may have been imported from either the United States or Canada.

The new variant of clostridium difficile, which causes severe diarrhea, broke out 18 months ago at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, and it's speculated that the bacteria might have been brought in by either an American or Canadian patient to the hospital's famed spinal-injuries unit. [1]

Initial investigation by Britain's Health Protection Agency indicates that the new strain is similar to one circulating in the United States and Canada. [2]

The spore-forming bacteria thrives in the intestines when the normal balance of bacteria shifts --- something that can happen after a dose of antibiotics --- and toxins are then produced, which can cause extreme diarrhea.

This new strain of clostridium is particularly resilient and has even shown resistance to certain disinfectants. It spreads by contact and can survive up to 70 days, living on hospital floors and toilet seats. [3]

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