VANCOUVER -- Fraser Health has detected an outbreak of C. difficile at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster.

The outbreak was declared on July 14, and a notice has been posted to the health authority's website.

Fraser Health has not confirmed how many patients are affected.

C. difficile, or Clostridium difficile, is a bacteria that can cause mild to severe diarrhea and inflammation of the colon. It's the most frequent cause of infectious diarrhea in hospitals and long-term care homes in Canada, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The bacteria and its spores are found in feces, and people can get infected if they touch the spores and then touch their mouths.

Some symptoms of C. difficile include fever, diarrhea, nausea, loss of appetite and abdominal pain and tenderness.

For healthy people, C. difficile does not pose a risk, but people who are on antibiotics, undergoing chemo, have other illnesses or are elderly are at greater risk of infection.

Fraser Health is asking visitors to its health-care facilities to use hand hygiene stations upon entering and exiting, especially if there's been a reported outbreak. People who are sick, including those with rashes, fever, cough or flu-like symptoms are asked not to visit.

Visitors seeing patients in a unit with an outbreak may be limited to two people at a time. The health authority also recommends visitors not go to other patients' rooms or visit common areas like the lounge, cafeteria and gift shop.