Prevalence, Antimicrobial Resistance and Toxin-Encoding Genes of Clostridioides difficile from Environmental Sources Contaminated by Feces

Clostridioides difficile ( C. difficile ) is the most common pathogen causing antibiotic-associated intestinal diseases in humans and some animal species, but it can also be present in various environments outside hospitals. Thus, the objective of this study was to investigate the presence and the characteristics of toxin-encoding genes and antimicrobial resistance of C. difficile isolates from different environmental sources. C. difficile was found in 32 out of 81 samples (39.50%) after selective enrichment of spore-forming bacteria and in 45 samples (55.56%) using a TaqMan-based qPCR assay. A total of 169 C. difficile isolates were recovered from those 32 C. difficile -positive environmental samples. The majority of environmental C. difficile isolates were toxigenic, with many (88.75%) positive for tcdA and tcdB . Seventy-four isolates (43.78%) were positive for binary toxins, cdtA and cdtB , and 19 isolates were non-toxigenic. All the environmental C. difficile isolates were susceptible to vancomycin and metronidazole, and most isolates were resistant to ciprofloxacin (66.86%) and clindamycin (46.15%), followed by moxifloxacin (13.02%) and tetracycline (4.73%). Seventy-five isolates (44.38%) showed resistance to at least two of the tested antimicrobials. C. difficile strains are commonly present in various environmental sources contaminated by feces and could be a potential source of community-associated C. difficile infections.


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