Clostridium difficile is a pathogen of significant public health concern causing a life-threatening, toxin-mediated enteric disease in humans. The incidence and severity of the disease associated with C. difficile have increased in the US with the emergence of hypervirulent strains and community associated outbreaks. The detection of genotypically similar and identical C. difficile strains implicated from human infections in foods and food animals indicates the potential role of food as a source of community associated C. difficile disease. One hundred samples each of ground beef, pork and chicken obtained from geographically distant grocery stores in Connecticut were tested for C. difficile. Positive isolates were characterized by ribotyping, antibiotic susceptibility, toxin production and whole genome sequencing. Of the 300 meat samples, only two pork samples tested positive for C. difficile indicating a very low prevalence of C. difficile in meat. The isolates were non toxigenic; however, genome characterization revealed the presence of several antibiotic resistance genes and mobile elements that can potentially contribute to generation of multidrug resistant toxigenic C. difficile by horizontal gene transfer. Further studies are warranted to investigate potential food-borne transmission of the meat isolates and development of multi-drug resistance in these strains.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was funded by the United States Department of Agriculture—National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) Critical and Emerging Food Safety Issues program grant # 2010–03567 .
- C. difficile
- Multidrug resistant