Another study we presented at the recent European Conference of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases was about Clostridium difficile in the household environment. In the study, we collected samples from various locations and surfaces in households, as well as five fecal samples (one per day) from pets, and tested them for C. difficile. Some of the most interesting findings included:

  • Clostridium difficile was found in one or more locations in 31% of households. The toilet was, not surprisingly, the most common site, but the kitchen sink, refrigerator and dog food bowl were close behind.
  • The most common strain found in households was the international outbreak strain ribotype 027. Ribotype 078, a strain that is commonly found in food and food animals, was the second most common type.
  • Clostridium difficile was isolated from 10% of dogs and 10% of cats, however in most cases only 1 of the 5 daily samples was positive.
  • All of the strains of C. difficile found in pets were strains that have previously been recovered from people. This fits with previous reports that strains found in animals tend to be the same as those found in people, and supports concerns that C. difficile can be transmitted between humans and animals.
  • In no households were C. difficile strains found in the pets the same as those found in the environment.  This suggests that pets are not an important source of household C. difficile contamination.
  • Dogs that lived with an immunocompromised person were 7.9 times as likely to shed C. difficile than other dogs. Presumably, immunocompromised people are more likely to carry C. difficile and subsequently transmit it to their pets.

More information about Clostridium difficile can be found on the Worms & Germs Resources page.