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J Med Microbiol. 2005 Feb;54(Pt 2):163-6.

PCR ribotyping of Clostridium difficile isolates originating from human and animal sources.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Studies, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, N1G 2W1, Canada.


Molecular typing of Clostridium difficile isolates from animals and humans may be useful for evaluation of the possibility for interspecies transmission. The objective of this study was to evaluate C. difficile isolates from domestic animals and humans using PCR ribotyping. Isolates were also tested using PCR for the presence of genes encoding toxins A and B. One hundred and thirty-three isolates of C. difficile from dogs (n = 92), horses (n = 21) and humans (n = 20), plus one each from a cat and a calf, were evaluated. Overall, 23 ribotypes were identified. Of these, nine were identified from dogs, 12 from horses, seven from humans and one each from the cat and calf. In dogs, humans and horses, one or two different ribotypes predominated. Overall, 25 % of isolates from humans were indistinguishable from isolates from one or more animal species. Genes encoding C. difficile toxins A and B were detected in all human, equine and bovine isolates, and in 69 % of canine isolates. While different ribotypes appear to predominate in different mammalian species, several indistinguishable strains may be found in multiple species. This suggests that there is a potential for interspecies transmission of C. difficile and epidemiological studies are warranted.

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