Clostridium difficile in Swine: Zoonotic Transfer and the Potential Consequences
Clostridium difficile is an anaerobic, gram-positive, spore-forming bacterium that can infect both animals and humans. C. difficile infection (CDI) is a toxin-mediated disease that can result in the production of three main virulence factors: toxin A, toxin B and binary toxin. Newborn piglets are highly susceptible to CDI, however age decreases the chances of colonization. Prevention and treatment strategies are limited, and there is currently no commercially available treatment option for CDI. However, treatment methods and prevention strategies using a nontoxigenic C. difficile strain and equine-origin antitoxins have been explored and show preliminary promising results. With evidence of possible zoonotic transfer increasing, agriculture and medical professionals should take action to prevent the spread of C. difficile. Consequences including economic loss and decline in consumer confidence could result if a highly virulent resistant strain of C. difficile emerged and caused an increase in morbidity and mortality rates among pigs and humans.