Carriage of Clostridium difficile and other enteric pathogens among a 4-H avocational cohort.
Clostridium difficile (CD), Salmonella, Campylobacter and enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) are major causes of morbidity in a variety of enteric diseases in humans and animals, but subclinical carriage in both is probably more common than are clinical cases. Little is known regarding the prevalence of these pathogens in animals raised for exhibit at Michigan county fairs or the frequency with which Michigan citizens raising these animals may have been subclinically colonized. To address these issues, 361 fecal specimens from 158 humans and 203 of their farm animals were cultured for CD, Salmonella and Campylobacter. Additionally, 50 people and their cattle were tested for EHEC. No EHEC, Salmonella or Campylobacter were detected. However, 16 specimens (4.4%) were positive for CD: 13 humans, two horses and one pig. None of the farm animal specimens submitted by any of the 13 CD-positive humans were positive for CD. Strain characterization [toxinotype, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE)] demonstrated that the human CD isolates were similar to what has been reported previously in the general US population. We conclude that horses and farm animals (cattle, sheep, goats and swine) at 1-2 months before market weight showed no evidence of wide-spread carriage of the common enteric pathogens, including the recently reported CD toxinotype V. These results provide no support to the hypothesis that 4-H members or others visiting county fair animal husbandry projects in these counties may be at increased risk for acquisition of CD, Salmonella, Campylobacter or EHEC from animals.