Nosocomial infections (hospital-acquired infections)

Nosocomial infections are infectious diseases contracted during hospitalization. Nosocomial infections are a major cause of complications in health care. In North America, they are the fourth leading cause of death.

Clostridium difficile

Clostridium difficile, also known as C. difficile, is a bacteria found in the gut of a small percentage of the population (about 5%).

According to the Quebec National Institute of Public Health, several studies show that 20 to 50% of hospitalized patients can acquire this bacteria during their hospital stay. In most cases, the bacteria does not cause health problems. Only a minority of hospital patients will develop clinical illness after taking antibiotics.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)

Staphylococci are bacteria that are usually found on the skin or in nostrils. It is estimated that 20% to 40% of adults carry staphylococcus aureus in the nose.

Staphylococcus aureus has developed resistance to several commonly used antibiotics, including semi-synthetic penicillin such as methicillin. MRSA does not cause more infections than other staphylococci, but it may require more difficult and longer treatment.

Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VREs)

Enterococci are bacteria commonly found in the gut and stool or on genitals. In general, enterococci does not cause infections in healthy people. Sometimes they can cause urinary tract infections, wound infections and, more rarely, blood infections. These infections can be acquired during a stay in a healthcare facility and are treated with a combination of antibiotics.

Vancomycin-resistant enterococci, also called VREs, are enterococci that have developed resistance to several antibiotics including vancomycin (an antibiotic belonging to the glycopeptide family). VREs do not cause more infections than other enterococci, but they may require more difficult and longer hospital stays and treatment.

For more information

For more information on nosocomial infections, visit the web site of the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux.