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J Infect Dis. 2007 Dec 15;196(12):1813-9. doi: 10.1086/523106.

Infection of hamsters with historical and epidemic BI types of Clostridium difficile.

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  • 1Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, Illinois, USA.



North American and European hospitals have reported outbreaks of Clostridium difficile-associated disease with unexpectedly high mortality caused by a newly recognized group of C. difficile strains, group BI. Our objective was to compare, in hamsters, the virulence of a historical nonepidemic BI type, BI1, with that of 2 recent epidemic BI types, BI6 and BI17, and with that of 2 standard toxigenic strains, K14 and 630.


For each strain, 10 hamsters were given 1 dose of clindamycin, followed 5 days later with 100 C. difficile spores administered by gastric inoculation. Outcomes were recorded.


The hamster model demonstrated variations in mean times from inoculation to death (for BI6, 40 h; for BI1, 48 h; for K14, 49 h; for BI17, 69 h; for 630, 102 h; for BI6, BI1, and K14 vs. 630, P< .01; for BI17 vs. 630, P< .05) and from colonization to death (for BI1, 7 h; for BI17, 13 h; for BI6, 16 h; for K14, 17 h; for 630, 52 h; for BI1, BI17, BI6, and K14 vs. 630, P< .01).


Group BI strains were not more rapidly fatal than the standard toxinotype 0 strain K14 but were more rapidly fatal than the standard toxinotype 0 strain 630. BI6, the most common BI type in our collection, was particularly virulent in hamsters, consistently causing death within 48 h of inoculation.

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