Research – Prevalence and Molecular Characteristics of Clostridium difficile in Retail Meats, Food-Producing and Companion Animals, and Humans in Minnesota

Journal of Food Protection Clostridium_difficile_01

Community-associated Clostridium difficile infection (CA-CDI) now accounts for approximately 50% of CDI cases in central Minnesota; animals and meat products are potential sources. From November 2011 to July 2013, we cultured retail meat products and fecal samples from food-producing and companion animals in central Minnesota for C. difficile by using standard methods. The resulting 51 C. difficile isolates, plus 30 archived local veterinary C. difficile isolates and 208 human CA-CDI case isolates from central Minnesota (from 2012) from the Minnesota Department of Health, were characterized molecularly, and source groups were compared using discriminant analysis. C. difficile was recovered from 0 (0%) of 342 retail meat samples and 51 (9%) of 559 animal fecal samples. Overall, the 81 animal source isolates and 208 human source isolates were highly diverse genetically. Molecular traits segregated extensively in relation to animal versus human origin. Discriminant analysis classified 95% of isolates correctly by source group; only five (2.5%) human source isolates were classified as animal source. These data do not support meat products or food-producing and companion animals as important sources of CA-CDI in the central Minnesota study region.

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