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J Med Microbiol. 2001 Aug;50(8):720-7.

Colonisation and transmission of Clostridium difficile in healthy individuals examined by PCR ribotyping and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis.

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Department of Bacteriology, School of Medicine, Kanazawa University, Japan.


Healthy adults who had not been exposed to antimicrobial agents for the preceding 4 weeks were examined for intestinal carriage of Clostridium difficile. The 1234 individuals examined were composed of seven groups: three classes of university students, hospital workers at two hospitals, employees of a company and self-defence force personnel at a local station. Overall, 94 (7.6%) individuals were positive for C. difficile by faecal culture but carriage rates among the study groups ranged from 4.2% to 15.3%. Typing by PCR ribotyping and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis demonstrated clusters of carriers colonised by a single type in each of three groups, indicating that cross-transmission of C. difficile can occur in community settings. Follow-up culture was performed on 38 C. difficile-positive individuals and C. difficile was isolated again from 12 (32%) of them 5-7 months after the initial culture; six (50%) of these 12 individuals had a new strain on repeat culture. Two or more family members were C. difficile-positive in five of 22 families examined. C. difficile with an identical type was isolated from persons within a family in only one family. These results suggest that intestinal carriage by healthy adults may play a role as a reservoir for community-acquired C. difficile-associated diarrhoea, but that cross-transmission of C. difficile does not occur frequently among family members at home.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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