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J Clin Microbiol. 2012 Jul;50(7):2366-72. doi: 10.1128/JCM.06581-11. Epub 2012 Apr 18.

Antimicrobial resistance, toxinotype, and genotypic profiling of Clostridium difficile isolates of swine origin.

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  • 1Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, Infectious Diseases Molecular Epidemiology Laboratory, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA.


The occurrence of Clostridium difficile infections in patients that do not fulfill the classical risk factors prompted us to investigate new risk factors of disease. The goal of this study was to characterize strains and associated antimicrobial resistance determinants of C. difficile isolated from swine raised in Ohio and North Carolina. Genotypic approaches used include PCR detection, toxinotyping, DNA sequencing, and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) DNA fingerprinting. Thirty-one percent (37/119) of isolates carried both tetM and tetW genes. The ermB gene was found in 91% of isolates that were resistant to erythromycin (68/75). Eighty-five percent (521/609) of isolates were toxin gene tcdB and tcdA positive. A total of 81% (494/609) of isolates were positive for cdtB and carry a tcdC gene (a toxin gene negative regulator) with a 39-bp deletion. Overall, 88% (196/223) of pigs carry a single C. difficile strain, while 12% (27/223) of pigs carried multiple strains. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of individual pigs found to carry more than one strain type of C. difficile. A significant difference in toxinotype profiles in the two geographic locations was noted, with a significantly (P < 0.001) higher prevalence of toxinotype V found in North Carolina (84%; 189/224) than in Ohio (55%; 99/181). Overall, the study findings indicate that significant proportions of C. difficile in swine are toxigenic and often are associated with antimicrobial resistance genes, although they are not resistant to drugs that are used to treat C. difficile infections.

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