High contamination rates of shoes of veterinarians, veterinary support staff and veterinary students with Clostridioides difficile spores.
Clostridioides difficile is often found in animals and their environment. However, not much has been reported on veterinary clinics environment in terms of the spore load, prevalence and PCR ribotype diversity. The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of C. difficile on shoe soles of veterinarians, veterinary support staff and veterinary students at the Veterinary Faculty campus. Altogether, 50 shoe sole swabs were collected, and the positivity rates ranged from 86.7% in swabs from veterinarians to 100% in swabs from support staff and students. Non-toxigenic and toxigenic strains representing toxinotypes 0, IV and XIX were isolated and distributed into 17 different PCR ribotypes, most common being 010, 014/020, SLO002 and 009. PCR ribotype 010 was the most prevalent and isolated from shoe soles sampled in 6/7 areas. Students' shoes had highest ribotype diversity (15/17 PCR ribotypes) but showed a low overlap with ribotype isolated from vets and support staff shoes. Veterinary students are likely the main vectors of C. difficile spores transmissions among veterinary teaching clinics and the hospital.