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In recent years, Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) has emerged as an increasing problem, both in in- and outpatients. In a rural region of southern Germany, the annual number of C. difficile toxin (Tcd)-positive patients has increased from 95 to 796 in the period from 2000 to 2007. Simultaneously, the proportion of positive tests among all Tcd examinations has risen from 7.0% to 12.8%, indicating that the higher number of affected patients was not solely due to an increase in the number of assays. Elevated numbers of CDI have recently been associated with outbreaks of the ribotype 027 strain, particularly in North America. This strain has also been isolated in Europe, including in Germany. Ribotyping and PCR testing for binary toxin genes of C. difficile strains isolated from in- and outpatients demonstrate a predominance (59%) of C. difficile ribotype 001, which exhibits antibiotic resistance to erythromycin, ciprofloxacin, and moxifloxacin, but lacks binary toxin genes. In summary, in our region of Germany, the number of patients affected by CDI has increased, probably due to spread of C. difficile ribotype 001.


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