Two Distinct Patterns of Clostridium difficile Diversity Across Europe Indicating Contrasting Routes of Spread.
Eyre DW., Davies KA., Davis G., Fawley WN., Dingle KE., De Maio N., Karas A., Crook DW., Peto TEA., Walker AS., Wilcox MH., EUCLID Study Group None.
Background: Rates of Clostridium difficile infection vary widely across Europe, as do prevalent ribotypes. The extent of Europe-wide diversity within each ribotype, however, is unknown. Methods: Inpatient diarrheal fecal samples submitted on a single day in summer and winter (2012-2013) to laboratories in 482 European hospitals were cultured for C. difficile, and isolates the 10 most prevalent ribotypes were whole-genome sequenced. Within each ribotype, country-based sequence clustering was assessed using the ratio of the median number of single-nucleotide polymorphisms between isolates within versus across different countries, using permutation tests. Time-scaled Bayesian phylogenies were used to reconstruct the historical location of each lineage. Results: Sequenced isolates (n = 624) were from 19 countries. Five ribotypes had within-country clustering: ribotype 356, only in Italy; ribotype 018, predominantly in Italy; ribotype 176, with distinct Czech and German clades; ribotype 001/072, including distinct German, Slovakian, and Spanish clades; and ribotype 027, with multiple predominantly country-specific clades including in Hungary, Italy, Germany, Romania, and Poland. By contrast, we found no within-country clustering for ribotypes 078, 015, 002, 014, and 020, consistent with a Europe-wide distribution. Fluoroquinolone resistance was significantly more common in within-country clustered ribotypes (P = .009). Fluoroquinolone-resistant isolates were also more tightly clustered geographically with a median (interquartile range) of 43 (0-213) miles between each isolate and the most closely genetically related isolate, versus 421 (204-680) miles in nonresistant pairs (P < .001). Conclusions: Two distinct patterns of C. difficile ribotype spread were observed, consistent with either predominantly healthcare-associated acquisition or Europe-wide dissemination via other routes/sources, for example, the food chain.