Laboratory detection of Clostridium difficile in piglets in Australia

Dan Knight, Michelle Squire, Thomas Riley

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23 Citations (Scopus)


Copyright © 2014, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved. Clostridium difficile is a well-known enteric pathogen of humans and the causative agent of high-morbidity enteritis in piglets aged 1 to 7 days. C. difficile prevalence in Australian piglets is as high as 70%. The current diagnostic assays have been validated only for human infections, and there are no published studies assessing their performance in Australian piglets. We evaluated the suitability of five assays for detecting C. difficile in 157 specimens of piglet feces. The assays included a loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LMIA)-PCR for tcdA (illumigene C. difficile; Meridian), a real-time PCR for tcdB (GeneOhm Cdiff; Becton Dickinson), two-component enzyme immunoassays (EIA) for C. difficile glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH) (EIA-GDH) and TcdA/TcdB (EIA-TcdA/TcdB) (C. diff Quik Chek; Alere), and direct culture (DC) (C. difficile chromID agar; bioMérieux). The assays for detection of the organism were compared against enrichment culture (EC), and assays for detection of toxins/toxin genes were compared against EC followed by PCR for toxin genes (toxigenic EC [TEC]). The recovery of C. difficile by EC was 39.5% (n = 62/157), and TEC revealed that 58.1% (n = 36/62) of isolates were positive for at least one toxin gene (tcdA/tcdB). Compared with those for EC/TEC, the sensitivities, specificities, positive predictive values, and negative predictive values were, respectively, as follows: DC, 91.9, 100.0, 100.0, and 95.0%; EIA-GDH, 41.9, 92.6, 78.8, and 71.0%; EIA-TcdA/TcdB, 5.6, 99.2, 66.7, and 77.9%; real-time PCR, 42.9, 96.7, 78.9, and 85.4% and LMIA-PCR, 25.0, 95.9, 64.3, and 81.1%. The performance of the molecular methods was poor, suggesting that the current commercially available assays for diagnosis of C. difficile in humans are not suitable for use in piglets. C. difficile recovery by the DC provides a cost-effective alternative.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3856-3862
JournalJournal of Clinical Microbiology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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