Twin Cities hospital eliminates dangerous germ

EDINA, Minn. - A Twin Cities hospital system is going after hard-to-fight infections in its facilities by using a surprisingly simple technique.

The staff at Fairview Southdale Hospitalis meticulous when disinfecting rooms. The regular cleaning solutions they use kill virtually every germ, but there's one bacterium, Clostridium difficile or C. difficile, that is difficult to get rid of.

"People that get it can get diarrhea 22 times a day which you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy," says Dawn Twenge, with Fairview Infection Prevention.

It can also destroy your colon, Twenge says.

Often transmitted in hospitals or care centers, C. difficile takes over the digestive system after good bacteria have been destroyed by strong antibiotics.

"It turns into a spore. That's why it's more difficult to kill. It's like an M & M with a shell on it," Twenge says.

Bleach will kills the bacteria, so Fairview Southdale employees started adding bleach wipes to their cleaning routine in rooms where patients with C. difficile had stayed.

Twenge said the hospital went from having a few occasional cases to none.

"It's been zero, month after month in our ICU so we're not transmitting it whatsoever," she says.

Follow up with black light shows just how clean the rooms are, once disinfected by employees.

"To be able to have zero is just a source of pride for our entire team," says Courtney Nelson, director of Environmental Services.

Some may wonder if using bleach wipes at home could prevent some of the flu and colds going around.

"We don't really encourage people to bleach everything at home," says Twenge.

She said if mixed improperly, bleach can cause problems for some.

However, she did say using bleach wipes after an intestinal bug is fine.

To keep yourself healthy, she recommends washing your hands before you touch food or your face.

To avoid getting the flu, stay away from those who are sick, and get a flu shot. It's not too late.

To avoid giving the flu to others, those who have it should stay home 24 hours after their fever breaks, without the assistance of fever-reducing medications.


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