CLEVELAND - An intestinal bacteria contributed to the deaths of an estimated 785 Ohioans last year, four times as many deaths as were recorded in 2000, according to state health records.
Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, has hit particularly hard in the Cleveland area, the source of nearly one-third of the 2005 cases that the Ohio Department of Health has confirmed so far.
The number of cases where the bacteria was a contributing cause in a death rose 20 percent from 2004 to 2005, the department found.
Officials said more doctors are learning about the bug that can cause severe diarrhea and colitis, and that could be a factor in the rising number of deaths attributed to C. diff.
The health department ordered all hospitals and long-term care facilities in December to disclose cases of C. diff in weekly reports to health officials.
Hospitals and nursing homes reported 1,162 cases in the first four weeks of this year.
A strain of C. diff that is resistant to antibiotics has appeared in more than a dozen states, including Ohio.