Hospital Bug Linked to 49 Deaths

A “hypervirulent” strain of the superbug Clostridium difficile has caused or contributed to the deaths of least 49 people at three hospitals in Leicester in eight months, an NHS trust confirmed yesterday. Officials at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS trust admitted that an “extremely virulent” strain of the bacterium had caused the deaths of 28 patients and contributed to a further 21.

A further 29 suspicious cases have been referred to the coroner. The announcement comes days after it emerged that at least 20 patients died during an outbreak at Maidstone hospital in Kent earlier this year. C difficile has emerged as the most serious hospital-acquired infection, and can lead to severe illness and death among the most vulnerable patients.

The three hospitals affected are Leicester Royal Infirmary, Leicester General, and Glenfield hospital, which is in health secretary Patricia Hewitt’s constituency.

David Jenkins, director of infection prevention and control for the Leicester trust, said: “Clostridium difficile is not a new bug, but the latest strain is extremely virulent.”