[Epidemiology of severe Clostridium difficile infections in Hesse, Germany in 2008-2009]

Dtsch Med Wochenschr. 2010 Oct;135(40):1963-7. doi: 10.1055/s-0030-1263342. Epub 2010 Oct 4.
[Article in German]


Background and objective: Clostridium difficile is a major cause of health care associated infections in industrialized countries. During the past decade, the incidence and clinical severity of C. difficile infections (CDI) have increased markedly. This increase has been associated with the emergence of a possibly highly virulent strain, the C. difficile PCR ribotype 027. We investigated the emergence of severe CDI and the associated PCR ribotypes in Hesse, Germany.

Patients and methods: We conducted a retrospective analysis of clinical information and ribotyping results of all cases of severe CDI that were reported to the Hesse State Health Office or sent to our microbiologic diagnostic laboratory for detection and molecular typing of C. difficile in severe cases of CDI from 01/2008 to 12/2009. The data of a of 88 patients and 50 isolates were analysed.

Results: 89% of patients were at least 65 years old; the mean age was 77 years. The clinical outcome was known in 85 patients. 27% had died within 30 days of the diagnosis of CDI. Ribotyping results were available in 39 and 11 patients from 2008 and 2009, respectively. The isolates were assigned to nine different ribotypes. RT 027 and RT 001 were the most frequent ribotypes with 31 and 10 isolates, respectively. All other ribotypes were isolated once or twice.

Conclusion: Our data indicate that C. difficile RT 027 and RT 001 are prevalent in Hesse and are often associated with severe or notifiable CDI. The high prevalence of RT 027 among the reported CDI cases does not indicate a generally high prevalence of the latter strain in Hesse, because detection of RT 027 was a case definition criterion, a fact that may cause a bias in the reported data. Further investigation would help to improve our understanding of the molecular epidemiology of severe CDI and to improve the prevention strategies.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Clostridioides difficile / genetics
  • Clostridioides difficile / pathogenicity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disease Notification
  • Enterocolitis, Pseudomembranous / epidemiology*
  • Enterocolitis, Pseudomembranous / microbiology
  • Enterocolitis, Pseudomembranous / mortality
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Surveillance
  • Ribotyping
  • Virulence / genetics
  • Young Adult