Clostridium difficile infection in production animals and avian species: A review
Foodborne Pathogens and Disease
School of Medical and Health Sciences
Clostridium difficile is the leading cause of antibiotic-associated diarrhea and colitis in hospitalized humans. Recently, C. difficile infection (CDI) has been increasingly recognized as a cause of neonatal enteritis in food animals such as pigs, resulting in stunted growth, delays in weaning, and mortality, as well as colitis in large birds such as ostriches. C. difficile is a strictly anaerobic spore-forming bacterium, which produces two toxins A (TcdA) and B (TcdB) as its main virulence factors. The majority of strains isolated from animals produce an additional binary toxin (C. difficile transferase) that is associated with increased virulence. C. difficile is ubiquitous in the environment and has a wide host range. This review summarizes the epidemiology, clinical presentations, risk factors, and laboratory diagnosis of CDI in animals. Increased awareness by veterinarians and animal owners of the significance of clinical disease caused by C. difficile in livestock and avians is needed. Finally, this review provides an overview on methods for controlling environmental contamination and potential therapeutics available.