CASES of the potentially fatal superbug Clostridium Difficile were down by 48 per cent in Gwent hospitals for the first five months of 2012/13, compared to the same period last year.

During April-August inclusive last year, there were more than 160 cases of C Difficile in the area's hospitals, against fewer than 90 this year, according to Aneurin Bevan Health Board figures.

New measures introduced by infection control teams in the battle to minimise healthcare associated infections are being highlighted as driving the reduction, notably a change in approach to the subject.

Infection control is now considered to be everybody's business, be they patients, visitors or staff, with everyone having a role to play in prevention.

Advanced training in infection control is now being made available to all staff, while patients and visitors are being targeted through an information campaign that stresses the importance of hand hygiene and other measures.

This latter campaign is seen by health bosses as very important in minimising the need for bed or ward closures, and extends beyond C Difficile to include MRSA (methycillin resistant staphylococcus aureus) prevention and diarrhoea and vomiting outbreaks.

C Difficile cases have decreased across all hospital sites in Gwent, and during the 14-month period from July 2011-August 2012, there were fewer than 30 cases a month. In the previous year, there were fewer than 30 cases a month on only one occasion.

Vigilance and prevention are now the key words in the battle against superbug cases. Each individual case is now discussed at senior management and nursing level, so that emerging problems can be spotted early, and compliance with care systems can be monitored.