Medline ® Abstracts for References 22-24
of 'Clostridium difficile infection in adults: Clinical manifestations and diagnosis'
Asymptomatic carriage of Clostridium difficile and serum levels of IgG antibody against toxin A.
Kyne L, Warny M, Qamar A, Kelly CP
N Engl J Med. 2000;342(6):390.
BACKGROUND: Clostridium difficile infection can result in asymptomatic carriage, mild diarrhea, or fulminant pseudomembranous colitis. We studied whether antibody responses to C. difficile toxins affect the risks of colonization, diarrhea, and asymptomatic carriage.
METHODS: We prospectively studied C. difficile infections in hospitalized patients who were receiving antibiotics. Serial stool samples were tested for C. difficile colonization by cytotoxin assay and culture. Serum antibody (IgA, IgG, and IgM) levels and fecal antibody (IgA and IgG) levels against C. difficile toxin A, toxin B, and nontoxin antigens were measured by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).
RESULTS: Of 271 patients, 37 (14 percent) were colonized with C. difficile at the time of admission, 18 of whom were asymptomatic carriers. An additional 47 patients (17 percent) became infected in the hospital, 19 of whom remained asymptomatic. The baseline antibody levels were similar in the patients who later became colonized and those who did not. After colonization, those who became asymptomatic carriers had significantly greater increases in serum levels of IgG antibody against toxin A than did the patients in whom C. difficile diarrhea developed (P<0.001). The adjusted odds ratio for diarrhea was 48.0 (95 percent confidence interval, 3.4 to 678) among patients with colonization who had a serum level of IgG antibody against toxin A of 3.00 ELISA units or less, as compared with patients with colonization who had a level of more than 3.00 ELISA units.
CONCLUSIONS: We find no evidence of immune protection against colonization by C. difficile. However, after colonization there is an association between a systemic anamnestic response to toxin A, as evidenced by increased serum levels of IgG antibody against toxin A, and asymptomatic carriage of C. difficile.
Division of Gerontology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02215, USA.
Nosocomial acquisition of Clostridium difficile infection.
McFarland LV, Mulligan ME, Kwok RY, Stamm WE
N Engl J Med. 1989;320(4):204.
We studied the acquisition and transmission of Clostridium difficile infection prospectively on a general medical ward by serially culturing rectal-swab specimens from 428 patients admitted over an 11-month period. Immunoblot typing was used to differentiate individual strains of C. difficile. Seven percent of the patients (29) had positive cultures at admission. Eighty-three (21 percent) of the 399 patients with negative cultures acquired C. difficile during their hospitalizations. Of these patients, 52 (63 percent) remained asymptomatic and 31 (37 percent) had diarrhea; none had colitis. Patient-to-patient transmission of C. difficile was evidenced by time-space clustering of incident cases with identical immunoblot types and by significantly more frequent and earlier acquisition of C. difficile among patients exposed to roommates with positive cultures. Of the hospital personnel caring for patients with positive cultures, 59 percent (20) had positive cultures for C. difficile from their hands. The hospital rooms occupied by symptomatic patients (49 percent) as well as those occupied by asymptomatic patients (29 percent) were frequently contaminated. Eighty-two percent of the infected cohort still had positive cultures at hospital discharge, and such patients were significantly more likely to be discharged to a long-term care facility. We conclude that nosocomial C. difficile infection, which was associated with diarrhea in about one third of cases, is frequently transmitted among hospitalized patients and that the organism is often present on the hands of hospital personnel caring for such patients. Effective preventive measures are needed to reduce nosocomial acquisition of C. difficile.
Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Washington, Seattle.
Asymptomatic carriers are a potential source for transmission of epidemic and nonepidemic Clostridium difficile strains among long-term care facility residents.
Riggs MM, Sethi AK, Zabarsky TF, Eckstein EC, Jump RL, Donskey CJ
Clin Infect Dis. 2007;45(8):992.
BACKGROUND: Asymptomatic fecal carriage of Clostridium difficile is common in patients staying in health care facilities, but the importance of asymptomatic carriers with regard to disease transmission is unclear.
METHODS: We prospectively examined the prevalence of asymptomatic carriage of epidemic North American pulsed-field gel electrophoresis type 1 and nonepidemic toxigenic C. difficile strains among long-term care patients in the context of an outbreak of C. difficile-associated disease and evaluated the frequency of skin and environmental contamination. Molecular typing was performed by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. Logistic regression was used to assess factors associated with asymptomatic carriage, and a sensitive and specific prediction rule was developed to identify high-risk patients.
RESULTS: Thirty-five (51%) of 68 asymptomatic patients were carriers of toxigenic C. difficile, and 13 (37%) of these patients carried epidemic strains. Compared with noncarriers, asymptomatic carriers had higher percentages of skin(61% vs. 19%; P=.001) and environmental contamination (59% vs. 24%; P=.004). Eighty-seven percent of isolates found in skin samples and 58% of isolates found in environmental samples were identical to concurrent isolates found in stool samples. Spores on the skin of asymptomatic patients were easily transferred to investigators' hands. Previous C. difficile-associated disease (P<.001) and previous antibiotic use (P=.017) were associated with asymptomatic carriage, and the combination of these 2 variables was predictive of asymptomatic carriage (sensitivity, 77%; specificity, 58%; positive predictive value, 66%; negative predictive value, 70%).
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that asymptomatic carriers of epidemic and nonepidemic C. difficile strains have the potential to contribute significantly to disease transmission in long-term care facilities. Clinical factors, such as previous C. difficile-associated disease and recent antibiotic use, may be predictive of asymptomatic carriage.
Research Service, Louis Stokes Cleveland Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA.