Clostridium difficile Whole Genome Sequencing Reveals Limited Transmission Among Symptomatic Children: A Single-Center Analysis

Kociolek, L. K.; Gerding, D. N.; Espinosa, R. O.; Patel, S. J.; Shulman, S. T.; Ozer, E. A.

Clin Infect Dis. 2018 Jan 26; 67(2):229-234


Background: Although pediatric Clostridium difficile infections (CDIs) are increasing, C. difficile transmission patterns among children are poorly understood. Methods: We performed whole genome sequencing (WGS) on C. difficile isolates collected from children diagnosed with CDI between December 2012 and December 2013 at a single academic medical center. Genome sequences of isolates from CDIs diagnosed >/=8 weeks after study initiation were compared to all study isolate genome sequences. Among patients with isogenic isolates (/=8 weeks after study initiation, only 10 (11.9%) were caused by a strain isogenic to another cohort CDI isolate (putative transmission events). Proportions of each CDI class putatively associated with transmission were hospital-onset healthcare facility-associated (HCFA), 2/16 (12.5%); community-onset HCFA, 1/17 (5.9%); indeterminate, 1/11 (9.1%); community-associated (CA), 5/40 (12.5%); and recurrent, 1/21 (4.8%). Transmission events among CA and HCFA CDIs were similarly infrequent (5/40 [12.5%] vs 3/33 [9.1%]; P = .64). Shared healthcare facility exposures were only identified among 7/10 putative transmission events. Potential community transmission (same postal code) was not identified. Conclusions: WGS identified a highly diverse group of C. difficile isolates among children with CDI, including those with HCFA CDI. Clostridium difficile transmission among symptomatic children was very uncommon. Among putatively transmitted cases, investigation of shared healthcare exposures often did not identify a potential transmission source.

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