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Adv Exp Med Biol. 2018;1050:13-25. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-72799-8_2.

The Need for European Surveillance of CDI.

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Strategic Lead Microbiology, NHS National Services Scotland, Health Protection Scotland, HAI & IC Section, Glasgow, UK.
Strategic Lead Microbiology, NHS National Services Scotland, Health Protection Scotland, HAI & IC Section, Glasgow, UK.
Department of Clinical Microbiology, The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin, Ireland.
Department of Clinical Microbiology, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, Ireland.
Department of Microbiology, Glasgow Royal Infirmary, Glasgow, UK.


Since the turn of the millennium, the epidemiology of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) has continued to challenge. Over the last decade there has been a growing awareness that improvements to surveillance are needed. The increasing rate of CDI and emergence of ribotype 027 precipitated the implementation of mandatory national surveillance of CDI in the UK. Changes in clinical presentation, severity of disease, descriptions of new risk factors and the occurrence of outbreaks all emphasised the importance of early diagnosis and surveillance.However a lack of consensus on case definitions, clinical guidelines and optimal laboratory diagnostics across Europe has lead to the underestimation of CDI and impeded comparison between countries. These inconsistencies have prevented the true burden of disease from being appreciated.Acceptance that a multi-country surveillance programme and optimised diagnostic strategies are required not only to detect and control CDI in Europe, but for a better understanding of the epidemiology, has built the foundations for a more robust, unified surveillance. The concerted efforts of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) CDI networks, has lead to the development of an over-arching long-term CDI surveillance strategy for 2014-2020. Fulfilment of the ECDC priorities and targets will no doubt be challenging and will require significant investment however the hope is that both a national and Europe-wide picture of CDI will finally be realised.


Capacity building; Collaborative effort; Epidemiology; Standardisation; Surveillance

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