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Clin Microbiol Infect. 2009 Dec;15(12):1080-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-0691.2009.02759.x. Epub 2009 May 11.

Application of multiple-locus variable-number tandem-repeat analysis to determine clonal spread of toxin A-negative Clostridium difficile in a general hospital in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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Department of Medical Microbiology, Leiden University Medical Centre, Leiden, The Netherlands.


Isolates from patients with Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) usually produce both toxin A (TcdA) and toxin B (TcdB), but an increasing number of reports from Europe and Asia mention infections with TcdA-negative, TcdB-positive (A-/B+) strains, usually characterized as PCR ribotype 017 (type 017). Incidence rates of CDI per 10 000 admissions in a 200-bed Argentinean general hospital were 37, 84, 67, 43, 48 and 42 for the years 2000 to 2005, respectively. The annual percentages of type 017 CDI were 7.7%, 64.6%, 91.4%, 92.0%, 75.0% and 86.4%, respectively. Comparison of 112 017-CDI patients with 41 non-017-CDI patients revealed that 017-CDI patients were more often male (68.8% vs. 46.3%; odds ratio 2.55, 95% confidence interval 1.23-5.50). All type 017 strains tested belonged to toxinotype VIII and had a 1.8-kb deletion in tcdA. In addition, 90% of tested type 017 isolates had high-level resistance to clindamycin and erythromycin, determined by the presence of the ermB gene. Multiple-locus variable-number tandem-repeat analysis (MLVA) was applied to 56 Argentinean isolates and 15 isolates from seven other countries. Country-specific clonal complexes were found in each country. Among 56 Argentinean isolates, four clonal complexes were recognized, accounting for 61% of all isolates. These clonal complexes did not show correlation over time, but seemed to be restricted to specific wards, mainly internal medicine and pulmonology wards. A total of 56% of recurrent infections were caused by a different isolate, despite identification of an identical PCR-ribotype. We conclude that C. difficile type 017 gradually replaced other circulating PCR ribotypes and that MLVA provides detailed insight into nosocomial spread.

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