, Volume 56, Issue 5, pp 431-437
Date: 08 Sep 2011

Isolation and characterization of Clostridium difficile from shellfish and marine environments

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This pilot study was carried out to evaluate the occurrence of Clostridium difficile in marine environments and in edible shellfish. Samples of seawater, sediment, and zooplankton were collected at five sampling stations in the Gulf of Naples. Six samples of edible shellfish, furthermore, were obtained: two from mussel farms and four from wholesalers. The isolation and the characterization of C. difficile strains were carried out using selective media and molecular techniques, respectively. C. difficile was isolated from nine of the 21 samples investigated. Shellfish and zooplankton showed the highest prevalence of positive samples. No C. difficile was detected in marine sediment. Majority of the C. difficile isolates were toxin A/B positive. Six known different PCR ribotypes (003, 005, 009, 010, 056, and 066) were identified, whereas one strain may represent a new PCR ribotype. C. difficile may be present in the marine environment in Southern Italy, including shellfish and zooplankton. This study is reporting the isolation of C. difficile from zooplankton, clams, and mussels and pointing out a new possible route to exposure to C. difficile of healthy individuals in the community.