Date: 08 Feb 2012

Clostridium difficile O27 colitis: Hospital-onset but community-acquired

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Large outbreaks of Clostridium difficile (CD) associated colitis in North America and Europe have been attributed to the emergence of the epidemic/toxin PCR Ribotype O27 CD strain (CD027). Due to the increased virulence of this epidemic strain and its propension for causing outbreaks, we performed a structured risk-assessment approach in order to determine the risks associated with the introduction of this strain within our university hospital. From February 2009 to January 2010, we identified 31 cases of CD027 associated colitis, whereby twenty one (67.7%) had symptoms onset more than 48 hours after admission and were classified as nosocomial. These patients had received wide-spectrum antimicrobials for other infections in the hospital before CD027 colitis diagnosis. The 31 patients with CD027 were admitted in 20 different units, managed by distinct health-care workers (HCWs), and no contact was identified between patients during their hospital stay. Furthermore, infection control audits showed 100% compliance with institutional guidelines for control of CD colitis. These findings suggest that CD027 is most frequently acquired in the community and emerges sporadically under antibiotic pressure during hospitalization.