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C.difficile infections continue to fall

The number of cases of clostridium difficile recorded in patients aged 65 and over has fallen by 19%, according to the latest figures published by the Health Protection Agency.

A total of 7,061 cases were recorded between July and September 2008, down from 8,696 in the previous quarter. This is also a 35% drop from the same quarter in 2007, when 10,884 cases were recorded.

The number of reports of C. difficile infections across all age groups also fell, from 10,888 between April and June, to 8,947 between July and September.

Professor Mike Catchpole, director of the Health Protection Agency's centre of infections, said: ‘Robust infection control and appropriate use of antibiotics remain key to tackling infections such as C. difficile.'

‘The use of antibiotics in patients who are very sick can leave people susceptible to C. difficile which would normally be easily kept at bay in healthy people.'

Health Secretary Alan Johnson said: ‘This is very good news, and shows that the relentless focus on tackling infections has been working effectively.'

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