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It’s a new year with an entirely new line up of guests eager to share their C. difficile research, infection prevention methods, clinical trials in progress, the updates in the C. diff. community, and much more.
In March the post-Patient and Family Symposium presentations will broadcast, in the event you weren’t able to attend the live-online event hosted on January 15th. The first annual Patient and Family Symposium was sponsored by Seres Therapeutics
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“None of us can do this alone ~ All of us can do this together.”
A provider of mechanical and electromechanical systems for the automotive and home appliance markets is debuting upgrades in several of its technology offerings to improve vehicle safety and reduce virus exposure in cars and the home.
Grand Haven-based GHSP announced a suite of new automotive offerings to redefine safety at home and on the road.
The company introduced a dual-stack rotary and multifunction controller it said will revolutionize a car’s center console to increase safety and eliminate distractions. The two controllers enable drivers to intuitively reach down and gain control of their car without taking their eyes off the road.
GHSP also is introducing grēnlite, its line of UV-C treatment products, to personal vehicles. The UV-C system enables users to disinfect their vehicles with UV-C light that kills 99.9% of viruses and bacteria, including harder-to-kill pathogens such as Clostridium difficile (C. diff) and human coronavirus.
“The need to develop our technology to make people’s lives easier and safer, whether they are at home or on the road, has drastically become more important over the past year,” said Marc Smeyers, GHSP chief technology officer. “We are committed to creating highly advanced, intuitive control systems and multifunction devices that advance the future of automotives and introduce a new level of safety the world has come to expect.”
Already in use in emergency services, mass transit and commercial vehicles, GHSP is bringing its grēnlite technology to personal vehicles to help keep people safe from germs.
The grēnlite technology works by recognizing when a surface or environment has been used and automatically emitting a dose of UV-C light to clear the air or surface of harmful pathogens. The grēnlite system is connectable to a cloud-based monitoring system that provides precision control of each unit and can gather information that can be used to increase treatment effectiveness.
The GHSP dual-stack rotary and multifunction controllers utilize common core shifting technology to seamlessly combine multiple different vehicle functions into one user-friendly controller.
Configurable software settings that enable drivers to change feel and sensitivity
Built-in cybersecurity across multiple vehicle networks
Automatic position sensing to support safety applications and additional convenience features
The electromechanical system behind GHSP’s shifting technology platform also is used as a basis for its smart home offerings, including premium home appliance controls. GHSP is currently accelerating development on its inductive cooktop surface, which incorporates an ultra HD video screen with touch capabilities for a “totally immersive” cooking experience. GHSP is advancing cooking control to enable guided and closed-loop cooking to help even novice chefs create gourmet meals.
Founded in 1924, GHSP is a privately owned portfolio company within JSJ Corporation that specializes in the design and manufacturing of control systems and technology solutions for the automobile, high-end appliance and technology industries.
It has locations in North America, Europe and Asia.
Andreas F. Widmer, Reno Frei, Ed J. Kuijper, Mark H. Wilcox, Ruth Schindler, Violeta Spaniol, Daniel Goldenberger, Adrian Egli, Sarah Tschudin-Sutter , and Kuijper
Author affiliations: University Hospital Basel, Basel, Switzerland (A.F. Widmer, R. Frei, R. Schindler, V. Spaniol, D. Goldenberger, A. Egli, S. Tschudin-Sutter); Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, the Netherlands (E.J. Kuijper); Leeds Institute of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences, University of Leeds, and Leeds Teaching Hospitals, Leeds, UK (M.H. Wilcox)
Public health authorities in the United States and Europe recommend surveillance for Clostridioides difficile infections among hospitalized patients, but differing diagnostic algorithms can hamper comparisons between institutions and countries. We compared surveillance based on the detection of C. difficile by PCR or enzyme immunoassay (EIA) in a nationwide C. difficile prevalence study in Switzerland. We included all routinely collected stool samples from hospitalized patients with diarrhea in 76 hospitals in Switzerland on 2 days, 1 in winter and 1 in summer, in 2015. EIA C. difficile detection rates were 6.4 cases/10,000 patient bed-days in winter and 5.7 cases/10,000 patient bed-days in summer. PCR detection rates were 11.4 cases/10,000 patient bed-days in winter and 7.1 cases/10,000 patient bed-days in summer. We found PCR used alone increased reported C. difficile prevalence rates by <80% compared with a 2-stage EIA-based algorithm.
Since its identification as a cause of antibiotic-associated pseudomembraneous colitis in 1978 (1), Clostridioides difficile has emerged as a major healthcare-associated pathogen worldwide. In the United States, C. difficile infection (CDI) rates doubled during 1996–2003 (2), and rates of CDI were reported to be 76.9 cases/10,000 discharges in 2005 (3). In a more recent national point-prevalence study including US healthcare facility in-patients, 13/1,000 patients were found to be either infected or colonized (4), a higher rate than had been previously estimated. In a national point-prevalence study of nosocomial infections in the United States, C. difficile was the most common causative pathogen overall (5). The increase largely has been attributed to the emergence of the hypervirulent strain, PCR ribotype 027 (RT027), which was identified as causative strain in 82% of cases during CDI outbreaks in Quebec, Canada, during 2001–2003 and accounted for 31% of all cases of healthcare-associated infections in the United States in 2011 (6–9). In Europe, CDI incidence varies across hospitals and countries with a weighted mean of 4.1 cases/10,000 patient-days per hospital in 2008 (10). The most recent study on CDI prevalence in Europe suggests an increase in the number of cases, reporting a mean of 7.0 cases/10,000 patient-bed days and ranging among countries from 0.7 to 28.7 cases/10,000 patient-bed days (11). The most common ribotype identified was RT027, which was detected in 4 countries: Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Romania (11).
To estimate and compare the burden of CDI across the United States, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began population-based CDI surveillance in 10 locations in 2011 (12). The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) began coordinating CDI surveillance in acute care hospitals in Europe in 2016 (13). Both authorities provide case definitions based on different diagnostic approaches, including detection of C. difficile toxin A and B by enzyme immunoassay (EIA) or detection of toxin-producing C. difficile organisms by PCR. However, the use of different diagnostic algorithms to detect C. difficile might hamper comparisons between institutions and countries. Therefore, in a nationwide C. difficile multicenter prevalence study in Switzerland, we systematically compared surveillance measures based on detection of C. difficile in stool by either PCR as a stand-alone test or by a 2-stage algorithm consisting of an EIA to detect glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH) and toxins A and B.
We performed a nationwide multicenter prevalence study of toxigenic C. difficile detected in stool samples routinely collected from hospitalized patients with diarrhea. Our study followed the design of a previous point-prevalence study for maximal comparability between our results and data from Europe (11). University Hospital Basel, a tertiary care center in Switzerland, coordinated the study. All hospitals participating in Swissnoso (https://www.swissnoso.chExternal Link), a national infection prevention network, were asked to participate. The Swissnoso network consists of 85 acute care hospitals that account for a total of 26,341 beds.
The Ethics Committee Northwest and Central Switzerland (Ethikkommission Nordwest-und Zentralschweiz) issued a declaration of no objection for this study. We adhered to STROBE guidelines for reporting on observational studies (14).
All stool samples collected from inpatients >1 year of age with diarrhea that were submitted to the microbiology laboratory on 2 specified sampling days, 1 in winter and 1 in summer, in 2015 were eligble for inclusion. Only 1 sample per patient was included. In addition, stool samples that tested positive for toxigenic C. difficile<1 week prior to each study day also were collected from all institutions to obtain a more detailed estimate of ribotype distribution in Switzerland.
We collected the following institutional data for all hospitals and their affiliated microbiology laboratories: contact information; detailed information regarding laboratory diagnostics in place; and detailed information on the total number of admissions, number of beds, and number of patients hospitalized on the 2 days of the study. We also collected information on the total number of diagnosed CDI cases at each institution during the study year. For each eligible stool sample, we collected the following data: date of sample collection, age and gender of patient, ward location and clinical specialty, institution, whether a C. difficile test was ordered by the treating physician, and result of the C. difficile test if testing was performed at the local laboratory.
We tested all stool samples at the Division of Clinical Microbiology of the University Hospital Basel by using a 2-stage algorithm consisting of EIA and PCR. We performed EIA to detect GDH and toxins A and B by using C. DIFF QUIK CHEK COMPLETE (Techlab, https://www.techlab.comExternal Link), following the manufacturer’s instructions. We then performed PCR to detect the toxin B gene by using the RealStar PCR Kit (Altona Diagnostics, https://www.altona-diagnostics.comExternal Link). For detected C. difficile, we performed strain typing by using high-resolution capillary gel-based PCR ribotyping according to the method previously described by Stubbs et al. (15).
We calculated reported and measured rates of detected toxigenic C. difficile per 10,000 patient bed-days across participating institutions. We compared differences in testing algorithms for detection of toxigenic C. difficile across institutions in Switzerland and performance characteristics of diagnostic algorithms. We considered the proportion of missed toxigenic C. difficile cases and ribotype distributions as additional outcomes. We further assessed the proportion of laboratories using optimized C. difficile diagnostic tests, which we defined as using an algorithm recommended by the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (16).
We separately calculated rates for each diagnostic algorithm performed in the coordinating center laboratory. In addition, we separately calculated rates for dedicated children’s hospitals. We defined missed C. difficile cases as those in which tests were negative at the participating hospital’s laboratory but positive at our institution. We used descriptive statistics to report ribotypes and differences in diagnostic algorithms across all participating institutions. All analyses were performed in Stata version 15.1 (StataCorp, https://www.stata.comExternal Link).
Figure 1. Distribution of centers participating in a prevalence study comparing molecular and toxin assays for nationwide surveillance of Clostridioides difficile, Switzerland. Red circles represent the location of participating centers.
Participating institutions included 76/85 (89.4%) institutions belonging to the Swissnoso network. Among participating institutions, 5 were academic teaching hospitals, 3 were dedicated children’s hospitals, and 36 were affiliated microbiology laboratories. Participating institutions were distributed across all geographic regions of Switzerland (Figure 1).
Participating institutions reported collecting a fecal sample for microbiological workup in »65% (SD +25%) of all patients with hospital-onset diarrhea. Among participating institutions, 15/76 (19.7%) did not begin CDI treatment before fecal sample collection. Among institutions that initiated treatment before collecting fecal samples, 23/76 (30.3%) began treatment in <2% of patients, 12/76 (15.8%) began treatment in 3%–5% of patients, 8/76 (10.5%) began treatment in 6%–10% of patients, and 1 (1.3%) began treatment in 11%–20% of patients. The other 17 (22%) institutions were not able to provide an estimate of these data.
Overall, 354 stool samples were submitted to the coordinating center, of which 338 were eligible for study inclusion; 16 samples were excluded because they were not liquid, their submitted data were incomplete, or they were duplicate samples from 1 patient. Among 338 samples included, 250 were collected as part of the point-prevalence study. We excluded 8 of these because the samples were collected from patients <1 year of age. In all, we included 242 samples in the point-prevalence study.
Figure 2. Testing algorithms at the 36 laboratories participating in a prevalence study comparing molecular and toxin assays for nationwide surveillance of Clostridioides difficile, Switzerland. EIA, enzyme immunoassay; GDH, glutamate dehydrogenase; NAAT, nucleic…
Among the 36 participating laboratories, 1 routinely tested all diarrheal stool samples for toxigenic C. difficile and 35 tested only if a specific test was requested. Optimized diagnostic tests for detection of toxigenic C. difficile were used by 58% (21/36) of laboratories in the winter sampling period and by 61% (22/36) in the summer sampling period. Among laboratories not following the recommendations of the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (16), 9 in the winter sampling period and 10 in the summer sampling period used a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) alone, and 5 in the winter sampling period and 3 in the summer sampling period used EIAs for A and B toxins either as a standalone test or as an initial screening test. Only 1 laboratory reported having established PCR ribotyping methodologies (Figure 2).
We collected demographic characteristics of patients whose stool samples tested positive by our testing algorithms (Table 1). C. difficile tests were required and performed for 68% (165/242) of stool samples; 6% (27/165) were reported as positive by the affiliated microbiology laboratory.
At the coordinating center, we detected C. difficile in 9% (21/242) of samples by EIA for GDH and A and B toxins and in 12% (30/242) of samples by PCR alone. Among all 27 samples reported as positive by the participating centers, we confirmed 18 (67%) by EIA and 24 (89%) by PCR. Among 138 samples reported as negative by the participating centers, 1 (1%) sample tested positive by EIA and 3 (2%) tested positive by PCR at the coordinating center. Among 77 samples not tested for C. difficile at the participating centers, we detected C. difficile in 2 (3%) by EIA and in 3 (4%) by PCR. Among 21 stool samples that tested positive by EIA at the coordinating center, a C. difficile test was not requested in 2 (10%) cases. Among 30 samples that tested positive by PCR at the coordinating center, a C. difficile test was not requested in 3 cases (10%; Table 2).
Measured detection and testing rates of toxigenic C. difficile were higher than the reported rates across all participating institutions (Table 3). Depending on the diagnostic algorithm applied, the largest difference in prevalence across all institutions was measured during the winter sampling period, which had a prevalence of 6.4 cases/10,000 patient bed-days by EIA and 11.4 cases/10,000 patient bed-days by PCR alone. Thus, across all institutions, rates of toxigenic C. difficile detection by PCR alone were <80% higher than detection rates by EIA for GDH and A and B toxins. In addition, detection rates by PCR alone were <100% higher in dedicated children’s hospitals (Table 3).
Figure 3. Distribution of PCR ribotypes among 107 samples collected in a prevalence study comparing molecular and toxin assays for nationwide surveillance of Clostridioides difficile, Switzerland. *Unknown ribotype.
We cultured and ribotyped 107 toxigenic C. difficile strains, 29 from the 2 point-prevalence days and 78 collected <1 week before each prevalence day. We identified a large diversity of C. difficile ribotypes, 23 (22%) had not been referenced before. The ribotypes most commonly identified included RT014 (12/107; 11%), presumably hypervirulent RT078 (9/107; 8%), RT001 (7/107; 7%), and RT002 (7/107; 7%) (Figure 3).
In this nationwide multicenter study, we found that PCR as a stand-alone test increased reported C. difficile prevalence rates <80% compared with a 2-stage EIA-based algorithm. At first glance, this finding was not surprising given the higher sensitivity of EIA (16). However, the fact that our results and conclusions are based on a nationwide cohort representing all geographic regions of Switzerland adds to the study’s credibility. In addition, our results strengthen the advice of the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases study group for C. difficile against use of a single commercial test for diagnosing CDI because of the low positive predictive values when CDI prevalence is low, 46% at a CDI prevalence of 5% (16). However, CDC and ECDC protocols for CDI surveillance define a case of CDI as the combination of diarrheal stool and a positive PCR (12,13). In addition, the clinical practice guidelines for CDI in adults and children published by the Infectious Diseases Society of America and Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America recommend testing by different approaches, such as multistep algorithms or NAAT, depending on the degree of clinical suspicion (17). Based on a systematic review and meta-analysis, the American Society of Microbiology also recommends different approaches, including NAAT-only testing, and algorithms that include GDH and NAAT or GDH, toxins, and NAAT (18). Although these recommendations stand to reason for detection of CDI in individual patients, our results challenge their utility for meaningful comparisons in surveillance studies and suggest that uniform definitions should be provided.
On both point-prevalence days, we noted a higher nationwide rate of toxigenic C. difficile than previously reported in incidence studies performed at different institutions in Switzerland (19–21). Our findings suggest that CDI rates have increased during the last decade in Switzerland, a finding that is in line with reports from other countries in Europe (11). Using the same diagnostic algorithm, diagnostic test, and a similar study design to the multicenter point-prevalence study of CDI in hospitalized patients with diarrhea in Europe, the nationwide mean prevalence rates are comparable in Switzerland (mean 6.1 cases/10,000 patient bed-days) and Europe (7.0 cases/10,000 patient bed-days) (11). Because we only included liquid stools in our study, our mean prevalence rate of 9.3 cases/10,000 patient bed-days measured by PCR fulfills the ECDC case definition and further shows that CDI is increasing substantially nationwide.
We found a lower proportion of missed detection of toxigenic C. difficile in Switzerland (9.5%), driven by the absence of clinical suspicion, compared with Europe (23%), which equates to 1 missed case of C. difficile per day among the included institutions in Switzerland. False-negative testing accounted for 1 additional missed diagnosis during both point-prevalence days, which extrapolates to »550 missed cases of C. difficile per year among hospitals across the nation.
We detected a variety of different RTs during our study period, 21% of which had not been referenced before. Of note, we did not recover hypervirulent RT027, but RT078 was the third most common strain circulating in Switzerland during our study. In contrast, a point-prevalence study in Europe identified RT027 as the most commonly circulating strain during its study period but did not detect RT078. RT078 has been associated with similarly severe disease manifestations as RT027, but RT078 has been reported to affect younger patients and to be linked more commonly with community-associated disease in the Netherlands (22). RT078 has been isolated from piglets with diarrhea, possibly suggesting ongoing transmission by introduction to the food chain because isolates from humans and pigs were found to be highly genetically related (22). A component of RT078 infections also was reported in Northern Ireland, which has a large pig population and »1:1 ratio of cattle to humans (23). In Switzerland, RT078 has been isolated previously from 6 wastewater treatment plants, suggesting its dissemination in the community (24). Except for both hypervirulent RT027 and RT078, we identified other similarities in RT distribution between Switzerland and the rest of Europe; RT014, RT001, RT002, and RT020 were among the 10 most commonly identified ribotypes in both settings.
Our study has some limitations, most of which are intrinsic to point-prevalence studies. First, our study only reflects frequency of toxigenic C. difficile detected on 2 days in 2015; therefore, we cannot draw solid conclusions regarding incidence. We expanded the timeframe for assessing the distribution of ribotypes circulating in Switzerland by an additional week for each prevalence day, but this still represents a limited collection of the true incidence. Second, we cannot rule out introduction of bias to testing policies at the participating hospitals, which might have increased testing on the 2 point-prevalence days. However, we did not provide any promotional information regarding our study, so alterations in daily clinical practice among treating physicians is unlikely on these 2 days. Third, we only included liquid stool samples for analyses, but we did not consider any other preanalytical factors, such as the use of laxatives, for testing eligibility. Finally, we applied surveillance definitions recommended by CDC and ECDC rather than defintions used for the clinical diagnosis of CDI in individual patients, such as detection of C. difficile in the context of symptoms related to CDI. Therefore, we cannot rule out detection of toxigenic C. difficile from colonization rather than infection in some cases.
In conclusion, this nationwide multicenter study reveals that PCR as a stand-alone test results in an increase of C. difficile prevalence rates of <80% compared with a 2-stage EIA-based algorithm. Our findings underscore the need for consistent testing algorithms for meaningful interinstitutional and nationwide comparisons. Our results also challenge the utility of the current CDC and ECDC case definitions and highlight the need for uniform recommendations on diagnostic approaches.
Dr. Widmer is head of the infection control program at University Hospital Basel, University of Basel, Switzerland. His research interests include all aspects of Clostridioides difficile and the epidemiology and prevention of hospital-acquired infections.
We acknowledge and thank the ESCMID (European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases) Study group for C. difficile (ESGCD) for professional support. We also thank all participating centers and laboratories (Appendix).
Astellas Pharmaceuticals Europe provided financial support for this study. The funder did not influence the study design and did not contribute to data collection, data analysis, data interpretation, or writing of the report. Astellas Pharma Europe reviewed the report for factual accuracy before submission, in line with the terms of the funding agreement. The corresponding author had full access to all data in the study and had final responsibility for the decision to submit for publication. Alere provided C. DIFF QUIK CHEK COMPLETE test kits for conducting EIAs to detect GDH and toxins A and B.
The authors declare the following possible conflicts of interest: A.W. is a member of the Astellas and Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. advisory boards for C. difficile and reports grants from the Swiss National Science Foundation. S.T.-S. is a member of the Astellas and Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. advisory boards for C. difficile and reports grants from the Swiss National Science Foundation (grant nos. NRP72 and 407240_167060), the Gottfried und Julia Bangerter-Rhyner Stiftung, and the Fund for the Promotion of Teaching and Research of the Voluntary Academic Society, Base
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Clorox Healthcare Spore* Defense Cleaner Disinfectant is a ready-to-use, low odor bleach that kills C. difficile in five minutes.
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Disinfecting surfaces in hospitals is challenging and time-consuming work. Research suggests only 50 percent of surfaces in patient rooms and operating rooms are effectively disinfected.¹ Proper disinfection of portable and shared medical equipment is also an important component of infection prevention as this equipment frequently becomes contaminated with healthcare-associated pathogens. In addition, such equipment often has irregular and difficult-to-clean surfaces resulting in suboptimal manual cleaning and disinfection.
In fact, a study conducted by Curtis Donskey, MD, Infectious Disease Specialist, Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center, found medical equipment was not disinfected after use 90 percent of the time. Sampling also showed that 27.5 percent of mobile equipment had one or more pathogens on them. These results demonstrate that mobile equipment is frequently used, infrequently cleaned, and can serve as a vector for the dissemination of pathogens.²
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Clorox Healthcare Spore Defense Cleaner Disinfectant has been extensively tested for efficacy, residue, and worker protection. This solution was developed to be safe to use through the Clorox® Total 360® System and ensure the combined products effectively enhance surface coverage while reducing the time it takes to treat healthcare surfaces.
PROVEN EFFICACY AGAINST HEALTHCARE FACILITIES’ TOUGHEST CHALLENGES
Dr. Donskey examined the efficiency of the sporicidal solution against C. diff reduction on healthcare surfaces in the real-world including wheelchairs, portable equipment, and waiting rooms. Findings showed the Clorox® Total 360®System with Spore Defense was just as effective as bleach wipes in reducing C. diff spores inoculated on wheelchairs but could be applied in one-fourth of the time, providing healthcare facilities with a rapid and effective means to reduce spore contamination on surfaces like never before.³
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Notes ¹ Bhalla A., Pultz N.J., Gries D.M. et al. “Acquisition of Nosocomial Pathogens on Hands After Contact With Environmental Surfaces Near Hospitalized Patients.” Infection Control Hospital Epidemiology. 2004 Feb;25(2): 164–7 ² Donskey, C., Study Update: Cleveland VAMC showcases Clorox Total 360 Spore Defense results at IDWeek 2019. Cloroxpro. Accessed April 3, 2020. ³ Donskey, C., Evaluation of a novel sporicidal spray disinfectant for decontamination of surfaces in healthcare. CloroxPro. Accessed April 3, 2020. ∗ Clostridium difficile spores only
Findings from a study by researchers from the University of Iowa highlights the potential role of the home environment in Clostridioides difficile transmission.
Using data from a commercial insurance claims database, the researchers found that the incidence of C difficile infection (CDI) among individuals living with a family member who had CDI was more than 12 times greater than the incidence in those without prior family exposure. The incidence rate was even higher in certain groups less likely to have other risk-increasing exposures.
While the level of absolute CDI risk attributable to the household transmission was extremely low, the authors of the study say the findings may have practical implications for preventing the spread of CDI in households.
CDI can be spread in the community
C. difficile infection (CDI) is a common, typically hospital-acquired infection that is mainly associated with antibiotic use and healthcare settings. While antibiotics create the conditions that allow for C difficile to flourish in the gut and cause infection, spores shed by infected patients (through fecal matter) and can be spread by healthcare workers and are frequently found on *bed rails, in the patient bathrooms, and other parts of the hospital environment.
(*High touch areas can be easily contaminated with Clostridioides difficile (C. difficile, C. diff.) spores) cdf note.
Those spores are often difficult to eliminate because they are resistant to many cleaning agents.
In 2017, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were an estimated 223,900 CDI cases in hospitalized patients.
But not all CDI cases start in hospitals. Some studies have found that CDI can be transmitted outside of healthcare settings, with persistent contamination of the household environment occurring in patients with documented infection. Others have found household pets colonized with the bacterium.
To better understand the potential role of household C difficile transmission, the University of Iowa researchers used a large population-based, commercial insurance claims data set to examine whether family members of CDI patients had a greater risk of acquiring the infection. Limiting the analysis to households with two or more family member enrolled in the same insurance plan for an entire month, they grouped individuals into four categories based on CDI status and family exposure to CDI: (1) CDI and prior family exposure, (2) no CDI and prior family exposure, (3) CDI and no family exposure, and (4) no CDI and no family exposure.
The primary outcome of the case-control study was the incidence of CDI in a given monthly enrollment stratum. Aside from exposure to CDI diagnosed in a family member, other CDI exposure risks were considered, including prior hospitalization, age, and antibiotic use. The researchers also conducted a separate analysis for CDI diagnosed in hospital or outpatient settings.
Higher risk from family exposure
Analysis of data covering 2001 through 2017 found that 224,818 CDI cases, representing 194,424 enrollees, occurred in families with at least two enrollees. Of these, 1,074 CDI cases (0.48%) occurred following a diagnosis in a separate family member, representing possible transmission. In general, the index cases of CDI tended to occur in older enrollees (ages 45 to 64 years), while the CDI cases that represented potential transmission events occurred in children.
A comparison of the incidence rate ratio (IRR) between individuals with and without family exposure showed that prior family exposure was significantly associated with an increased incidence of CDI (IRR, 12.47; 95% confidence interval [CI], 8.86 to 16.97) even after controlling for other risk factors. This was the second-highest IRR behind hospital exposure (IRR, 16.18; 95% CI, 15.31 to 17.10).
Increased CDI incidence was also associated with age (IRR, 9.90; 95% CI, 8.93 to 10.98 for people over age 65 compared with those aged 0 to 17) and antibiotic use (IRR, 7.78; 95% CI, 7.33 to 8.25 for people on high-CDI-risk antibiotics compared with no antibiotics).
When the researchers looked at subgroups of CDI cases less likely to be attributed to hospital exposure, they found that the IRR associated with family exposure was even higher—16.00 (95% CI, 11.72 to 21.22) for community-onset CDI and 21.74 (95% CI, 15.12 to 30.01) for community-onset CDI without prior hospitalization.
“For individuals with family exposure, the risk for being diagnosed with CDI remained consistent after controlling for CDI risk factors and different model specifications,” the authors wrote. “Together, these results suggest that individuals with family exposure may be at greater risk for acquiring CDI than those without exposure and highlight the importance of the shared environment in the transmission and acquisition of C difficile.”
The authors note that because they were not able to conduct whole-genome sequencing, they cannot confirm whether CDI cases within families represent identical strains. They also said the study is limited by the reliance on insurance claims data, which do not provide all the details necessary to determine attributable risk.
Despite the low absolute risk of acquiring CDI from a family member, the authors suggested that cleaning shared bathrooms with effective cleaning agents could be a practical way to minimize transmission risk.
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