Researchers discover role of asymptomatic carriers of Clostridium difficile
Previous studies have suggested that C. difficile is transmitted by asymptomatic carriers in hospital settings. To determine if this is true, researchers used a multi-locus variable number of tandem repeats analysis, a molecular subtyping tool that can find possible transmission sources.
Using this tool, the researchers recovered C. difficile isolates from peri-rectal swabs and used the MLVA tool to determine the genetic relationship between isolates from asymptomatic carriers and patients with hospital-associated C. difficile infections.
From the 3006 patients screened, 314 were positive for toxigenic C. difficile. Of these cases, 226 were found only by vancomycin resistant enterococcus surveillance cultures. It was found that 29 percent of these cases were associated with carriers.
The researchers realized that, in a hospital with established infection control and a program that is designed to contain transmission for symptomatic C. difficile patients, asymptomatic carriers played a very large role in the transmission of C. difficile. To reduce the transmission of C. difficile, the researchers suggested that identification and isolation of carriers might be needed.