Food distribution possibly spreading C. diff. in Europe: 4 key notes

A study presented at the 2017 European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in Vienna examined the spread of Clostridium difficile bacteria, Gastroenterology and Endoscopy News reports.

David Eyre, DPhil, of the University of Oxford, and colleagues used DNA fingerprinting to analyze more than 600 stool samples and examine how bacterial infections spread across Europe.

Here's what you should know.

1. Researchers found two distinct patterns of robotypes spread.

Researchers said RT027 and RT001 were spread through healthcare settings. The strains clustered in specific countries.

RT078, RT015, RT002, RT014 and RT020 were present throughout Europe and associated with farm animals. Researchers found RT078 in Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain and United Kingdom and was directly associated with pig farming.

2. Researchers are unsure as to why animals are coming down with C. diff. Mark H. Wilcox, MD, of FRCPath, theorizes that antibiotics could be one reason. Pigs often carry C. diff, but lose it as they grow older.

3. Dr. Wilcox said to Gastroenterology and Endoscopy News that it's unclear if animals can transmit C. diff to humans, but said, "Theoretically yes [It's a possibility]."

4. Researchers need more data to discover how bacteria spread through food distribution.

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