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J Infect Dis. 1992 Sep;166(3):561-7.

Acquisition of Clostridium difficile by hospitalized patients: evidence for colonized new admissions as a source of infection.

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Department of Medicine, VA Medical Center, Minneapolis, MN 55417.


The frequency of introduction and spread of specific Clostridium difficile strains among hospitalized patients were assessed by serial cultures of patients admitted to a medical-surgical ward with endemic C. difficile-associated diarrhea. Stool cultures were obtained from 634 (94%) of 678 consecutive admissions to the ward (ward admissions), and all C. difficile isolates were typed by restriction endonuclease analysis. Sixty-five ward admissions introduced C. difficile to the ward, and 54 initially culture-negative admissions acquired C. difficile on the ward. Ward admissions hospitalized within the prior 30 days in the medical center were more likely to be culture-positive for C. difficile at admission to the study ward than those not previously hospitalized at the institution (16% vs. 7%, P less than .001). Nosocomial acquisition of a C. difficile strain was preceded by a documented introduction of that strain to the ward by another asymptomatic ward admission in 16 (84%) of 19 instances, suggesting that C. difficile-colonized new admissions are a major source of nosocomial C. difficile infections.

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