A bacterium that causes virulent diarrhea in the elderly has been spreading through hospitals in Quebec and Alberta and may have contributed to the deaths of 100 patients in one institution alone in the last 18 months, medical authorities said on Sunday. \nThe spread of an infectious illness in at least a handful of hospitals has stirred the concerns among Canadian health experts that surfaced last year when more than 40 people died in and around Toronto during the SARS epidemic, mostly in hospital settings. \nHospital officials conceded then -- and still do -- that their housekeeping staffs had been stretched thin because of cutbacks in federal and provincial funding in recent years and that sanitary conditions leave much to be desired. \nThe bacteria are commonly found in hospitals and do not pose a threat to healthy people. But they can be deadly to already weakened people who are being treated with antibiotics for other illnesses that allow the bacteria to flourish in the intestinal tract. \nA new analysis by the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that in two hospitals in Montreal and one in Sherbrooke, Quebec, the rate of patients contracting the bacterium, known as Clostridium difficile, had increased from 2.1 cases per 1,000 admissions in 2002 to 10 per 1,000 last year, and that the trend had continued this year. \nThe study found that the bacteria have taken their heaviest toll in the University of Sherbrooke's medical center in southern Quebec, where 54 deaths last year and 46 in the first half of this year were linked to the bacteria. The hospital has managed to decrease the rate of illness in recent months, the report said. \nThe bacteria were also found to have contributed to the deaths of 81 patients in Montreal, Canada's second-largest city, in recent years, which underscored that many hospitals there are in a rundown state. \nThe Quebec health minister, Philippe Couillard, responded cautiously to the study. \n"One hundred people died while having the bacteria in them," he told the Canadian Press news service. "It doesn't mean that their deaths were due to the bacteria." \nQuebec public health officials have been tracking the outbreak of cases since June and have been urging hospitals to reinvigorate their hygiene programs. Beginning this month, more than 100 area facilities will issue monthly reports on contraction of the bacteria to provincial authorities. Area hospitals have stepped up precautions, including urging their staff to wash their hands frequently.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic
BEYOND CULTURE: The US State Department was expected to announce that the Chinese government-funded institutes would have to register as foreign missions US President Donald Trump’s administration is increasing scrutiny of a long-established Chinese-government funded program that is dedicated to teaching Chinese language and culture in the US and other nations, the latest escalation of tensions with Beijing. The US Department of State was expected to announce as soon as yesterday that Confucius Institutes in the US — many of which are based on college campuses — would have to register as “foreign missions,” according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified. The designation would amount to a conclusion that the institutes are “substantially owned or effectively controlled” by