A European survey of diagnostic methods and testing protocols for Clostridium difficile

Clinical Microbiology and Infection (Impact Factor: 4.58). 10/2003; 9(10):989 - 996. DOI: 10.1046/j.1469-0691.2003.00683.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Objective To conduct a survey of the methods used in clinical microbiology laboratories in Europe to diagnose infection with Clostridium difficile.Methods A questionnaire was devised and sent to a co-ordinating member of the Study Group in each of eight European countries. This co-ordinator was in charge of forwarding the questionnaire to hospital laboratories arbitrarily selected. The number of laboratories in each country was determined on the basis of one laboratory for 10 000 beds of hospitalization. This questionnaire covered different aspects pertaining to Clostridium difficile associated to diarrhea (CDAD) diagnosis such as circumstances of request, criteria used for undertaking C. difficile investigations, methods used for the diagnosis, etc.Results A total of 212 questionnaires were completed and submitted for analysis: 87.7% of laboratories reported routinely performing C. difficile diagnostic tests. Methods used included toxin detection (93%), culture (55%), and glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH) detection (5.9%). Among the laboratories detecting toxins, different enzyme immunoassays (EIA) and cytotoxicity assays were used in 79% and 17.3% of cases, respectively. Among the different strategies reported, 4.8% were considered suboptimal for the diagnosis of C. difficile infections, but marked discrepancies could be observed between countries. The overall incidence (median) of CDAD was estimated at 1.1 for 1000 patient admissions.Conclusion The results of this study suggest marked discrepancies between laboratories and also between countries regarding the criteria by which C. difficile is investigated for, and the methods and the strategies that are used for the diagnosis of C. difficile. These discrepancies could be explained by the lack of clear guidelines for C. difficile diagnosis in each country, and by the importance that physicians attach to C. difficile. Precise guidelines for C. difficile diagnosis would be the first step to make possible accurate comparison of the incidence and the epidemiology of CDAD from one hospital to another or from one country to another.

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    ABSTRACT: The incidence and mortality rate of Clostridium difficile infection have increased remarkably in both hospital and community settings during the last two decades. The growth of infection may be caused by multiple factors including inappropriate antibiotic usage, poor standards of environmental cleanliness, changes in infection control practices, large outbreaks of C. difficile infection in hospitals, alteration of circulating strains of C. difficile, and spread of hypervirulent strains. Detection of high-risk populations could be helpful for prompt diagnosis and consequent treatment of patients suffering from C. difficile infection. Metronidazole and oral vancomycin are recommended antibiotics for the treatment of initial infection. Current treatments for C. difficile infection consist of supportive care, discontinuing the unnecessary antibiotic, and specific antimicrobial therapy. Moreover, novel approaches include fidaxomicin therapy, monoclonal antibodies, and fecal microbiota transplantation mediated therapy. Fecal microbiota transplantation has shown relevant efficacy to overcome C. difficile infection and reduce its recurrence.
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