Asymptomatic colonization may contribute to Clostridium difficile transmission. Few data identify which patients are at risk for colonization. We performed a prospective cohort study of C. difficile colonization and risk factors for C. difficile acquisition and loss in hospitalized patients. Patients admitted to medical or surgical wards at a tertiary care hospital were enrolled; interviews and chart review were performed to determine patient demographics, C. difficile infection (CDI) history, medications, and health care exposures. Stool samples/rectal swabs were collected at enrollment and discharge; stool samples from clinical laboratory tests were also included. Samples were cultured for C. difficile, and the isolates were tested for toxins A and B and ribotyped. Chi-square tests and univariate logistic regression were used for the analyses. Two hundred thirty-five patients were enrolled. Of the patients, 21% were colonized with C. difficile (toxigenic and nontoxigenic) at admission and 24% at discharge. Ribotype 027 accounted for 6% of the strains at admission and 12% at discharge. Of the patients colonized at admission, 78% were also colonized at discharge. Cephalosporin use was associated with C. difficile acquisition (47% of patients who acquired C. difficile versus 25% of patients who did not; P = 0.03). β-lactam-β-lactamase inhibitor combinations were associated with a loss of C. difficile colonization (36% of patients who lost C. difficile colonization versus 8% of patients colonized at both admission and discharge; P = 0.04), as was metronidazole (27% versus 3%; P = 0.03). Antibiotic use affects the epidemiology of asymptomatic C. difficile colonization, including acquisition and loss, and it requires additional study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4533-4543
Number of pages11
JournalAntimicrobial agents and chemotherapy
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015


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