A Clostridium difficile outbreak in an Italian hospital: the efficacy of the multi-disciplinary and multifaceted approach


Introduction: We described an outbreak of C. difficile that occurred in the Internal Medicine department of an Italian hospital and assessed the efficacy of the measures adopted to manage the outbreak.

Methods: The outbreak involved 15 patients and was identified by means of continuous integrated microbiological surveillance, starting with laboratory data (alert organism surveillance).

Diarrheal fecal samples from patients with suspected infection by C. difficile underwent rapid membrane immuno-enzymatic testing, which detects both the presence of the glutamate dehydrogenase antigen and the presence of the A and B toxins.

Extensive microbiological sampling was carried out both before and after sanitation of the environment, in order to assess the efficacy of the sanitation procedure.

Results: The outbreak lasted one and a half month, during which time the Committee for the Prevention of Hospital Infections ordered the implementation of multiple interventions, which enabled the outbreak to be controlled and the occurrence of new cases to be progressively prevented.

The strategies adopted mainly involved patient isolation, reinforcement of proper hand hygiene techniques, antimicrobial stewardship and environmental decontamination by means of chlorine-based products. Moreover, the multifaceted management of the outbreak involved numerous sessions of instruction/training for nursing staff and socio-sanitary operatives during the outbreak.

Sampling of environmental surfaces enabled two sites contaminated by C. difficile to be identified.

Conclusions: Joint planning of multiple infection control practices, together with effective communication and collaboration between the Hospital Infections Committee and the ward involved proved to be successful in controlling the outbreak.



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