Clostridium difficile in horses in Australia, a One Health approach to assess the risks to humans.
PHE ePoster Library. Hale A. 04/10/19; 259602; 15568
Ashleigh Hale
Ashleigh Hale
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Abstract Clostridium difficile is an opportunistic bacterial pathogen which can cause life-threatening illness. C. difficile infection (CDI) is a well-known cause of hospital-acquired infectious diarrhoea and a key public health issue in many developed countries. C. difficile has been isolated from many species worldwide, and the global incidence of community-associated CDI (CA-CDI) has been increasing significantly since the early 2000s, with suggested hypotheses of zoonotic aetiology. The aim of this study was to investigate a range of samples collected from horses of different ages and in varying states of health, to estimate any potential risks of CA-CDI horses may pose to humans. Anonymised faecal horse samples were collected from veterinary pathology clinic, VetPath Perth, and Yarradale Stud Gidgegannup. Additional samples were collected in Eneabba from Pangaré Brumbies, wild horses which roam Western Australia (WA). Faecal samples were put into enrichment broths and swabbed onto agar. Putative C. difficile colonies were identified through characteristic colony morphology and UV fluorescence. PCR detection of toxin genes and ribotyping were performed to investigate the epidemiology of infection. Results show relatively high rates of C. difficile colonisation and/or infection in horses throughout WA, with C. difficile being isolated from 23.4% of 130 horse/foal samples. This investigation led to the isolation of a particularly interesting strain, RT 237. RT 237 had previously only been identified in pig and human infections, suggesting possible zoonotic transmission, and supporting the idea that infected horses may pose a risk to humans. The results collected in this study highlight the potential of horses to act as a reservoir for C. difficile, and the need for continued surveillance of CDI in human and animal populations to fully understand the risks that infected animals pose to human health. Funding All funding was covered by the host laboratory: PathWest Laboratory MedicineQueen Elizabeth II Medical Centre
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