Original Research

Clostridium difficile in patients attending tuberculosis hospitals in Cape Town, South Africa, 2014–2015

Brian R. Kullin, Sharon Reid, Valerie Abratt
African Journal of Laboratory Medicine | Vol 7, No 2 | a846 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajlm.v7i2.846 | © 2018 Brian R. Kullin | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 June 2018 | Published: 06 December 2018

About the author(s)

Brian R. Kullin, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, Faculty of Science, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Sharon Reid, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, Faculty of Science, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Valerie Abratt, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, Faculty of Science, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Diarrhoea due to Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) poses a significant burden on healthcare systems around the world. However, there are few reports on the current status of the disease in sub-Saharan Africa.

Objectives: This study examined the occurrence of CDI in a South African population of tuberculosis patients, as well as the molecular epidemiology and antibiotic susceptibility profiles of C. difficile strains responsible for disease.

Methods: Toxigenic C. difficile in patients with suspected CDI attending two specialist tuberculosis hospitals in the Cape Town area were detected using a PCR-based diagnostic assay (Xpert® C. difficile). C. difficile strains isolated from PCR-positive specimens were characterised by ribotyping, multilocus variable-number tandem-repeat analysis and antibiotic susceptibility testing.

Results: The period prevalence of CDI was approximately 70.07 cases per 1000 patient admissions. Strains belonging to ribotype 017 (RT017) made up over 95% of the patient isolates and all of them were multi-drug resistant. Multilocus variable-number tandem-repeat analysis revealed several clusters of highly related C. difficile RT017 strains present in tuberculosis patients in several wards at each hospital.

Conclusion: Tuberculosis patients represent a population that may be at an increased risk of developing CDI and, in addition, may constitute a multi-drug resistant reservoir of this bacterium. This warrants further investigation and surveillance of the disease in this patient group and other high-risk patient groups in sub-Saharan Africa.


Keywords

Clostridium difficile; tuberculosis hospitals

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