Different Antibiotic Resistance and Sporulation Properties within Multiclonal Clostridium difficile PCR Ribotypes 078, 126, and 033 in a Single Calf Farm

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Clostridium difficile strains were sampled periodically from 50 animals at a single veal calf farm over a period of 6 months. At arrival, 10% of animals were C. difficile positive, and the peak incidence was determined to occur at the age of 18 days (16%). The prevalence then decreased, and at slaughter, C. difficile could not be isolated. Six different PCR ribotypes were detected, and strains within a single PCR ribotype could be differentiated further by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). The PCR ribotype diversity was high up to the animal age of 18 days, but at later sampling points, PCR ribotype 078 and the highly related PCR ribotype 126 predominated. Resistance to tetracycline, doxycycline, and erythromycin was detected, while all strains were susceptible to amoxicillin and metronidazole. Multiple variations of the resistance gene tet(M) were present at the same sampling point, and these changed over time. We have shown that PCR ribotypes often associated with cattle (ribotypes 078, 126, and 033) were not clonal but differed in PFGE type, sporulation properties, antibiotic sensitivities, and tetracycline resistance determinants, suggesting that multiple strains of the same PCR ribotype infected the calves and that calves were likely to be infected prior to arrival at the farm. Importantly, strains isolated at later time points were more likely to be resistant to tetracycline and erythromycin and showed higher early sporulation efficiencies in vitro, suggesting that these two properties converge to promote the persistence of C. difficile in the environment or in hosts.
Original languageUnknown
Pages (from-to)8515-8522
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012

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