Clostridium difficile infections fall significantly
Latest figures for C difficile in England show that between April and June 2008 there were 8,683 cases recorded in patients aged 65 years and over. This represents a fall of 18% in this age group from the previous quarter, January to March 2008, when the total was 10,608.
This also represents a fall of 38% from the same quarter in 2007 when 13,924 cases were recorded in patients aged 65 years and over between April and June.
Professor Mike Catchpole, Director of the Health Protection Agency's Centre for Infections, said: "It is reassuring to see that trusts are continuing to make significant progress controlling outbreaks and bringing down the number of C difficile infections. This remains a challenge for the NHS but healthcare workers are clearly working hard to fight these infections.
"It's too early to say whether we will see the same continued success tackling C difficile that has been seen with MRSA, but if numbers continue to drop in this way in future we are well on our way to seeing outbreaks of this unpleasant infection become fewer and fewer.
"We now have a more robust system for monitoring C difficile infections, improving our understanding of the burden that this infection places on the NHS and enabling trusts to manage and develop where necessary their infection control procedures.
"It is important to remember that not all healthcare-associated infections are preventable. The use of antibiotics in patients who are very sick can leave people susceptible to C difficile which would normally be easily kept at bay in healthy people.
"However, this shouldn't lead to complacency around tackling the infections that are preventable and engaging in the battle to continually drive down rates of healthcare associated infections. These figures show that there can be, and have been, significant reductions."