Zoonotic transfer of Clostridium difficile harboring antimicrobial resistance between farm animals and humans

C. W. Knetsch, N. Kumar, S. C. Forster, T. R. Connor, H. P. Browne, C. Harmanus, I. M. Sanders, S. R. Harris, L. Turner, T. Morris, M. Perry, F. Miyajima, P. Roberts, M. Pirmohamed, J. G. Songer, J. S. Weese, A. Indra, J. Corver, M. Rupnik, B. W. WrenT. V. Riley, E. J. Kuijper, T. D. Lawley

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72 Citations (Web of Science)


The emergence of Clostridium difficile as a significant human diarrheal pathogen is associated with the production of highly transmissible spores and the acquisition of antimicrobial resistance genes (ARGs) and virulence factors. Unlike the hospital-associated C. difficile RT027 lineage, the community-associated C. difficile RT078 lineage is isolated from both humans and farm animals; however, the geographical population structure and transmission networks remain unknown. Here, we applied whole-genome phylogenetic analysis of 248 C. difficile RT078 strains from 22 countries. Our results demonstrate limited geographical clustering for C. difficile RT078 and extensive coclustering of human and animal strains, thereby revealing a highly linked intercontinental transmission network between humans and animals. Comparative whole-genome analysis reveals indistinguishable accessory genomes between human and animal strains and a variety of antimicrobial resistance genes in the pangenome of C. difficile RT078. Thus, bidirectional spread of C. difficile RT078 between farm animals and humans may represent an unappreciated route disseminating antimicrobial resistance genes between humans and animals. These results highlight the importance of the “One Health” concept to monitor infectious disease emergence and the dissemination of antimicrobial resistance genes.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Microbiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


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