Surveillance and outbreak reports Open Access
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A surveillance study designed to provide a representative sample of the strains of Clostridium difficile causing infections in hospitals in England was in operation from April 2007 to the end of March 2008. Six hundred and seventy-seven isolates were obtained from 186 hospitals in the nine geographical regions of England as recognised by the Health Protection Agency's Regional Microbiology Network. Typing studies revealed that PCR ribotype 027 is now the most common strain isolated from symptomatic patients, accounting for over 41.3% of isolates in English hospitals. Type 106 was the second most common strain (20.2%) and Type 001, which was once the most common strain associated with hospital outbreaks, has now been reduced to only 7.8% of the total. A mixture of 44 other PCR ribotypes accounted for the remaining 28.9% of isolates. This represents a changing distribution of strains when compared to a previous study performed two years earlier which showed roughly equal proportions of types 106, 001 and 027. Antimicrobial susceptibility testing by the E test method revealed significantly lower susceptibility to metronidazole in the more common strains when compared to the less common ribotypes, although none were classified as clinically resistant. Similarly, no resistance to vancomycin was detected. However, common PCR ribotypes were more resistant to moxifloxacin and erythromycin than the less common strains, which may indicate a selective advantage for resistance to these agents, and combined resistance to these two agents was a good indicator of a common ribotype.


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