Genetic changes blamed for Clostridium difficile infections riseSeptember 28th, 2009 - 6:07 pm ICT by ANI
London, Sep 28 (ANI): British researchers have attributed the recent rise in Clostridium difficile infections to genetic changes rather than dirty hospitals.The researchers compared an historic strain and a strain from the outbreak at Stoke Mandeville hospital in 2003, and found that it had evolved to be more virulent.
They said that it could spread more easily and cause more severe symptoms.
The bacteria are present in the gut of as many as 3 percent of healthy adults and 66 percent of infants.
It rarely causes problems in healthy people but can lead to illness when the normal balance of bacteria in the gut is disrupted, and it is the leading cause of hospital-acquired diarrhoea.
However, in the past five years, a new group of highly virulent C. difficile strains has emerged - PCR-ribotype 027 - that causes more severe diarrhoea and a higher rate of deaths.
The researchers analysed the full genome of the “hypervirulent” strains and an older strain.
They showed that the bacteria has acquired genes which enable it to survive better in the environment, spread more easily and make patients more severely ill.
They said that overall, five different genetic regions appear to have accumulated in the bacteria in past couple of decades.
Study leader Professor Brendan Wren, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said that the study would help scientists understand how C. difficile became so aggressive.
“These strains came from nowhere and the sudden rise in C. difficile was due to their spread,” the BBC quoted him as saying.
“The bugs are fighting back and the one clear thing that comes out of this study is it is not down to cleaning but that the strain has evolved with new chunks of DNA.
“The deep clean programme was never going to work against this organism in the long term,” he added.
He also said that hygiene measures are still needed to keep the infection under control.
The study has been published in Genome Biology journal. (ANI)
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