Asymptomatic Colonization by Clostridium difficile in Infants: Implications for Disease in Later Life
ABSTRACT Approximately 60% to 70% of healthy newborns and infants are colonized by the enteric pathogen Clostridium difficile. For reasons that remain obscure, these colonized infants show no ill effects from the potent exotoxins released by this anaerobe, in contrast to older children and adults who are susceptible to severe diarrhea and colitis. The organism is acquired in infancy, as in adults, from environmental contamination in the nursery or home environment. Between 12 and 24 months C difficile is evicted as a commensal, presumably by the gradual development of the adult colonic microflora. The carrier state is well tolerated by infants, and the immunoglobulin G antitoxin response that develops during the carrier state appears to provide durable protection against subsequent C difficile disease.
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ABSTRACT: Current detection methods for Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) can be time-consuming and have variable sensitivities. Real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) may allow earlier and more accurate diagnosis of CDI than other currently available diagnostic tests. A meta-analysis was performed to determine the diagnostic accuracy of real-time PCR. We searched MEDLINE (Pubmed/Ovid) and 4 other online electronic databases (1995-2010) to identify diagnostic accuracy studies that compared PCR with cell culture cytotoxicity neutralization assay (CCCNA) or anaerobic toxigenic culture (TC) of C. difficile. Screening for inclusion, data extraction, and quality assessment were carried out independently by 2 investigators and disagreements resolved. Data were combined by means of a random-effects model, and summary receiver operating characteristic curves and diagnostic odds ratios were calculated. Nineteen studies (7392 samples) met our inclusion criteria. The overall mean sensitivity of PCR was 90% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 88%-91%), specificity 96% (CI: 96%-97%), positive likelihood ratio 26.89 (CI: 20.81-34.74), negative likelihood ratio 0.11 (CI: .08-.15), diagnostic odds ratio 278.23 (CI: 213.56-362.50), and area under the curve 0.98 (CI: .98-.99). Test accuracy depended on the prevalence of C. difficile but not on the reference test used. At C. difficile prevalence of <10%, 10%-20% and >20% the positive predictive value and the negative predictive value were 71%, 79%, 93% and 99%, 98% and 96%, respectively. Real-time PCR has a high sensitivity and specificity to confirm CDI. Overall diagnostic accuracy is variable and depends on CDI prevalence.Clinical Infectious Diseases 10/2011; 53(7):e81-90. DOI:10.1093/cid/cir505 · 9.42 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Laboratory methods for detecting Clostridium difficile have undergone considerable evolution since the organism's etiologic association with antibiotic-associated diarrhea and colitis was established. Clearly, familiarity with the advantages and shortcomings of the various assays is essential for the laboratory director when choosing among these tests. For the consulting pathologist, furthermore, an understanding of the laboratory's role in securing a diagnosis of C difficile infection (CDI) is also required to identify requests for unnecessary testing that may be costly and potentially misleading. The purpose of this article is to highlight the major differences in laboratory test methods for CDI and to review a few commonly encountered provider ordering scenarios.American Journal of Clinical Pathology 01/2012; 137(1):10-5. DOI:10.1309/AJCP62WEZHLFIJKH · 3.01 Impact Factor