Background: Clostridium difficile is an important cause of intestinal infections in some animal species and animals might be a reservoir for community associated human infections. Here we describe a collection of animal associated C. difficile strains from 12 countries based on inclusion criteria of one strain (PCR ribotype) per animal species per laboratory.
Results: Altogether 112 isolates were collected and distributed into 38 PCR ribotypes with agarose based approach and 50 PCR ribotypes with sequencer based approach. Four PCR ribotypes were most prevalent in terms of number of isolates as well as in terms of number of different host species: 078 (14.3% of isolates; 4 hosts), 014/020 (11.6%; 8 hosts); 002 (5.4%; 4 hosts) and 012 (5.4%; 5 hosts). Two animal hosts were best represented; cattle with 31 isolates (20 PCR ribotypes; 7 countries) and pigs with 31 isolates (16 PCR ribotypes; 10 countries).
Conclusions: This results show that although PCR ribotype 078 is often reported as the major animal C. difficile type, especially in pigs, the variability of strains in pigs and other animal hosts is substantial. Most common human PCR ribotypes (014/020 and 002) are also among most prevalent animal associated C. difficile strains worldwide. The widespread dissemination of toxigenic C. difficile and the considerable overlap in strain distribution between species furthers concerns about interspecies, including zoonotic, transmission of this critically important pathogen.