State Officials Probe Bacteria Outbreak at Batavia Hospital

April 21, 2011 Updated Apr 22, 2011 at 10:06 AM EDT

By John Borsa

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April 21, 2011 Updated Apr 22, 2011 at 10:06 AM EDT

BATAVIA, NY (WKBW) - State health officials are investigating cases of C. difficile infection at United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia.

18 patients have been identified at the Genesee County hospital. 11 of them contracted the bacteria while hospitalized at UMMC. The remaining seven were infected before they were admitted, said Jeffrey Hammond, spokesperson for the New York State Department of Health.

One patient died in March, but it is unclear if that person died from infection or an unrelated cause.

Hammond said the state is working with UMMC staff on proper infection control measures to help reduce the spread of illness.

A hospital spokesperson said the number of cases are below the average for similar sized health care facilities.

"If you look at our record over the last several months and last year," said UMMC spokesperson Collen Flynn, "you would see that we've had a very low average of hospital acquired C. diff."

"We take this very seriously and put in many precautions and cleaning methods to do everything we can to minimize the risk to any other patients," Flynn said.

C. difficile is a common bacteria found in the stomach and intestines of most people that can cause watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, and fever. If not treated, it can lead to more serious problems.

Healthy individuals are able to avoid symptoms because their bodies fight off mass infection.

John Gerace of Batavia said his aunt was hospitalized at UMMC in early April for a hip fracture and contracted C. diff there.

"She's fighting," said Gerace. "She's fighting everyday but she's just on morphine right now and some other medicines just to keep her comfortable right now."