CDC Reports Dramatic Increase Deaths from GI Infections – The Culprits? Norovirus and Clostridium Difficile…Common Bugs Turn Lethal

Business Continuity Planning & Emergency Management

The CDC released a study this past week that has noted that deaths from gastrointestinal infections more than doubled from 1999 to 2007, to more than 17,000 a year from 7,000 a year.  Of those who died, 83 percent were over age 65.  Two thirds of the deaths were caused by a bacterium, Clostridium difficile, that people often contract in hospitals and nursing facilities, particularly when they have been taking antibiotics. But researchers were surprised to discover that the second leading cause of death from this type of illness was the common norovirus. It causes a highly contagious infection that can spread rapidly on cruise ships, dorms, prisons, and hospitals.  Most people would classify norovirus as a minor illness but this study refocuses attention on this illness in a new light.

Problems with C. difficile are not new: Health officials first began warning in 2004 that a more virulent and drug-resistant…

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