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Pilot project: Studies on the prevalence and typing of Clostridium difficile in pets and their keepers

Clostridium difficile can cause various forms of diarrhoea in humans. The clinical spectrum of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) ranges from mild diarrhoea to life-threatening pseudomembranous colitis. C. difficile is also associated with diarrhoea in animals. In addition to numerous wild animals, pets and farm animals are also affected by C. difficile-associated diarrhoeal diseases. A high agreement of ribotypes can be found in numerous isolates of humans and animals. It is possible that certain C. difficile ribotypes are transferred from an animal reservoir to the human area.

In this pilot project, data on the prevalence of C. difficile and the predominant ribotypes in dogs, cats and their owners were collected for the first time at national level. For this purpose, animals and their owners were sampled throughout Germany. The isolates obtained from C. difficile were typified. In addition, data were collected by questionnaires, which were epidemiologically evaluated together with the typing results and compared with data from human medicine.

The samples are stored in a sample bank at the Friedrich Loeffler Institute and can be made available to interested scientists upon request. The publication of the results is currently in preparation.

With the three cooperation partners, the Institute for Microbiology and Animal Diseases of the FU Berlin, the working group Clostridia of the FLI and the expert group 32 Surveillance of the RKI, an interdisciplinary cooperation between veterinary and human medicine was realized in this pilot project.

Dr. Antina Lübke-Becker (Institute for Microbiology and Animal Diseases, Department of Veterinary Medicine, Freie Universität Berlin)

Project partner:
Dr. Christian Seyboldt (Friedrich-Loeffler-Institute, Jena)
Dr. Tim Eckmanns (Robert Koch Institute, FG 32 Surveillance)

Project duration: 01.03.2012 - 31.12.2013 (TP Seyboldt) resp. 30.04.2014 (TP Lübke-Becker, after cost-neutral extension)