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Gastroenterology. 2009 May;136(6):1913-24. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2009.02.073. Epub 2009 May 7.

Clostridium difficile infection caused by the epidemic BI/NAP1/027 strain.

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Research Service, Edward Hines Jr VA Hospital, Hines, Illinois 60141, USA.

Erratum in

  • Gastroenterology. 2009 Aug;137(2):743.


Rates and severity of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) in hospitals in North America and Europe have increased since 2000 and correlate with dissemination of an epidemic strain characterized by higher than usual toxin A and B production, the presence of a third toxin, binary toxin, and high-level resistance to fluoroquinolone antibiotics. The strain, which is restriction endonuclease analysis group BI, pulse-field gel electrophoresis type NAP1, and polymerase chain reaction ribotype 027, is designated BI/NAP1/027. How this strain has become so widely distributed geographically and produces such severe CDI is the subject of active investigation. The deletion at position 117 of the tcdC gene, a repressor of toxin A and B production, is one possible contributor to increased levels of the toxins. The role of binary toxin is unknown. Recent isolates of BI/NAP1/027 were found to be resistant to fluoroquinolones, which is likely to contribute to the dissemination of this strain. Other virulence factors such as increased sporulation and surface layer protein adherence are also under investigation. Infections caused by this organism are particularly frequent among elderly hospitalized patients, in whom the attributable 30-day mortality is greater than 5%. Major risk factors for BI/NAP1/027 infection include advanced age, hospitalization, and exposure to specific antimicrobials, especially fluoroquinolones and cephalosporins. When CDI is severe, vancomycin treatment is more effective than metronidazole; for mild disease either agent can be used. Control of hospital outbreaks caused by BI/NAP1/027 is difficult but possible through a combination of barrier precautions, environmental cleaning, and antimicrobial stewardship.

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