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Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


1.6 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, 3. MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES, Public and environmental health, Infectious diseases, Animal and dairy science


Clostridium difficile is an important enteric pathogen in humans causing infections in the healthcare environment and the community. Carriage of C. difficile and C. difficile-related enterocolitis has been reported in piglets worldwide. The aim of this study was to investigate the rates of C. difficile isolation from pigs in Ireland. Faecal samples from piglet litters and sows were collected from six farms in 2015. The sows were non-diarrhoeal at the time of sampling. The diarrhoeal status of the piglets was unknown. C. difficile was isolated from 34/44 (77%) of piglet litter samples and from 33/156 (21%) of sow samples. The isolation rate in sows varied from 3 to 39% and in piglet litters from 72 to 86% depending on farm location. Toxin A and toxin B were present in 99% (66/67) of isolates; and binary toxin in 85% (57/67). Only PCR-ribotypes 078 (88%) and 193 (12%) were identified in piglets. Seven PCR-ribotypes were detected in sow C. difficile isolates: PCR-ribotypes 078 (67%), 050 (12%), 014/020 (6%), 015 (6%), 029 (3%), 035 (3%) and 193 (3%). This study shows that toxigenic C. difficile strains such as PCR-ribotype 078 can be commonly isolated from pigs at different geographical locations in Ireland. Since PCR-ribotype 078 is frequently found in humans in Ireland, this highlights the potential for interspecies transmission.