Lapis ISSN 2398-2969

Clostridium difficile

Contributor(s): Vetstream Ltd, Susan Dawson, Molly Varga

Introduction

Classification

Taxonomy

  • Class: Clostridia.
  • Order: Clostridiales.
  • Family: Clostridiaceae.
  • Genus:Clostridium.
  • Species:difficile.

Etymology

  • Greek:Kloster- spindle.
  • Latin:difficile- difficult; refers to the unusual difficulty encountered in its isolation and study.

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Clinical Effects

Epidemiology

Habitat

  • Isolated from diverse habitats, including:
    • Soil, hay, sand.
    • Intestines of cows, donkeys, horses, dogs, cats, rodents and human beings.
  • Part of normal intestinal flora.

Lifecycle

  • Reproduces and proliferates when intestinal conditions are favorable:
    • Following destruction of other normal flora by antibiotic therapy.
    • Bowel stasis.
    • Following intestinal surgery.
    • Unrelated to known risk factors.

Transmission

  • Infection may be endogenous or exogenous.

Pathological effects

  • In pseudomembranous colitis, overgrowth of the organism occurs following antibiotic therapy.
  • The organism produces toxin A (an enterotoxin) and toxin B (a cytotoxin).

Other Host Effects

  • Part of the normal flora of the gastrointestinal tract.

Control

Control via animal

  • Supportive therapy and appropriate antimicrobial drugs.

Control via chemotherapies

  • Resistant to many common antimicrobials, including ampicillin, clindamycin and cephalosporins.
  • Cases of human pseudomembranous colitis have been successfully treated using vancomycin or metronidazole   Metronidazole  .

Control via environment

  • Many infections endogenous, therefore environmental control may not be helpful.
  • Good hygienic practices will aid in the control of exogenous infection.

Vaccination

  • No vaccine available.

Diagnosis

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Hara-Kudo Y, Morishita Y, Nagaoka Y et al (1996) Incidence of diarrhea with antibiotics and the increase of clostridia in rabbits. J Vet Med Sci 58 (12), 1181-1185 PubMed.

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