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PLoS One. 2012;7(1):e30183. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0030183. Epub 2012 Jan 11.

High prevalence of Clostridium difficile colonization among nursing home residents in Hesse, Germany.

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Hesse State Health Office, Centre for Health Protection, Dillenburg, Germany.


Clostridium difficile is the most common cause of antibiotic-associated diarrhoea in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. The elderly are particularly susceptible and at increased risk for adverse outcome as a result of C. difficile infection. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of C. difficile colonization among residents of nursing homes in Hesse and to compare it with the prevalence in the general population living outside long-term care facilities (LTCF). We assessed possible risk factors for C. difficile colonization and determined the genotype of circulating strains. C. difficile was isolated from 11/240 (4.6%) nursing home residents and 2/249 (0.8%) individuals living outside LTCF (pā€Š=ā€Š0.02). Ten of 11 (90.9%) isolates from nursing homes and one of two isolates from the population outside LTCF were toxigenic. The prevalence of C. difficile colonization varied from 0% to 10% between different nursing homes. Facilities with known actual or recent CDI cases were more likely to have colonized residents than facilities without known CDI cases. C. difficile PCR-ribotypes 014 and 001 were the most prevalent genotypes and accounted for 30% and 20% of toxigenic isolates in nursing homes, respectively. Interestingly, no individuals carried the epidemic strain PCR-ribotype 027. Our results suggest that residents of nursing homes in Germany are at high risk for colonization by virulent C. difficile strains. The high prevalence of C. difficile colonization in nursing homes underscores the importance of good adherence to standard infection control precautions even in the absence of a diagnosed infection. They also emphasize the need for specific programs to increase the awareness of healthcare professionals in LTCF for CDI.

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