Epidemiology of antibiotic-associated colitis; isolation of Clostridium difficile from the hospital environment

Am J Med. 1981 Apr;70(4):906-8. doi: 10.1016/0002-9343(81)90553-2.


Clostridium difficile is the most important cause of antibiotic-associated colitis. Using selective media, it was found that contamination with this organism was common in the environment of patients in the hospital with the disease. It was often found on floors, hoppers, toilets, bedding, mops, scales and furniture. This organism was also present on these items, but less often, in areas in which patients known to carry this hardy spore-forming organism had not been detected. Air, food and walls were negative. The organism was isolated from the hands and stools of asymptomatic hospital personnel. It was also found on surfaces in a patient's home. The importance of the various sources of the organism in its spread in the hospital is not known, and further studies are needed. It is suggested that enteric isolation precautions, and careful handwashing and cleansing of potentially contaminated surfaces and objects may be worthwhile when cases of antibiotic-associated colitis are identified.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Clostridium / isolation & purification*
  • Clostridium Infections / epidemiology*
  • Clostridium Infections / microbiology
  • Cross Infection / epidemiology*
  • Cross Infection / microbiology
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial
  • Enterocolitis, Pseudomembranous / epidemiology*
  • Enterocolitis, Pseudomembranous / microbiology
  • Humans


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents