Clostridium difficile shedding by healthy dogs in Nigeria and Malawi.
The objectives of this study were to determine the prevalence and characteristics of Clostridium difficile shedding in owned dogs in Nigeria and Malawi. Clostridium difficile was isolated from 31/120 (26%) dogs in Nigeria and 11/92 (12%) dogs in Malawi (p=0.012). Overall, 22/42 (52%) isolates were toxigenic; 17/31 (55%) from Nigeria and 5/11 (45%) from Malawi. All toxigenic isolates possessing tcdA and tcdB, and only one also possessed cdtA/B. Sixteen different ribotypes were found, ten (63%) of which were non-toxigenic. Most isolates corresponded to ribotypes that have been previously identified in humans or livestock. The role of dogs in transmission of C. difficile and the clinical implications of C. difficile shedding in dogs remain unclear. These data indicate that dogs could act as a source of C. difficile for exposure of other species, including humans; however, the true risk is unknown. Further study of the ecology of C. difficile and the role of dogs in disease of humans and other domestic animals is indicated.