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Epidemiol Infect. 1991 Dec;107(3):659-65.

Gastrointestinal carriage of Clostridium difficile in cats and dogs attending veterinary clinics.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Western Australia, Nedlands.


Cats and dogs being treated at two veterinary clinics were investigated for gastrointestinal carriage of Clostridium difficile using selective solid and enrichment media. Thirty-two (39.5%) of 81 stool samples yielded C. difficile. There were significant differences in isolation rates between clinics, 61.0% of animals being positive at one clinic compared to 17.5% at the other (Chi-square, P less than 0.005). Of 29 animals receiving antibiotics, 15 (52.0%) harboured C. difficile while 11 (23.9%) of 46 animals not receiving antibiotics were positive (Chi-square, P less than 0.01). There was no difference in carriage rate between cats (38.1%) and dogs (40.0%). The environment at both veterinary clinics was surveyed for the presence of C. difficile. Fifteen of 20 sites at one clinic were positive compared to 6 of 14 sites at the other clinic. Both cytotoxigenic and noncytotoxigenic isolates of C. difficile were recovered from animals and environmental sites. These findings suggest that household pets may be a potentially significant reservoir of infection with C. difficile.

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