Characterization of clostridium difficile isolates from human fecal samples and retail meat from Pennsylvania

Jyotika B. Varshney, Katherine J. Very, Jen L. Williams, John P. Hegarty, David B. Stewart, Jeanne Lumadue, Kumar Venkitanarayanan, Bhushan M. Jayarao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


A study was conducted to determine the prevalence of Clostridium difficile and characterize C. difficile isolates from human stool and retail grocery meat samples. Human stool samples (n=317) were obtained from a clinical laboratory and meat samples (n=303) were collected from 8 retail grocery stores from October 2011 through September 2012 from Centre County of Pennsylvania and were examined for C. difficile. C. difficile was isolated from 16.7% of stool samples (n=317) and 6.9%, 11.5%, 14.5%, and 7.8% of beef (n=72), pork (n=78), turkey (n=76), and chicken (n=77) samples, respectively. Six different toxin gene profiles were detected in all human and meat isolates of C. difficile based on the presence or absence of toxin genes tcdA, tcdB, and cdtA and cdtB. Interestingly, 75.6% of the human C. difficile isolates lacked any deletion in the tcdC gene (139-bp), whereas a 39-bp deletion was observed in 61.3% of the C. difficile strains isolated from meat samples. C. difficile from meat samples were more susceptible to clindamycin, moxifloxacin, vancomycin, and metronidazole than C. difficile isolates from human samples. Twenty-five different ribotypes were identified in human and meat C. difficile isolates. In conclusion, significant genotypic and phenotypic differences were observed between human and meat isolates of C. difficile; however, a few C. difficile isolates from meat - in particular ribotypes 078, PA01, PA05, PA16, and PA22 with unique profiles (toxin gene, tcdC gene size and antimicrobial resistance profiles) - were similar to human C. difficile isolates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)822-829
Number of pages8
JournalFoodborne pathogens and disease
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Microbiology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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