Quantitative detection of Clostridium difficile in hospital environmental samples by real-time polymerase chain reaction

R. Mutters, C. Nonnenmacher, C. Susin, U. Albrecht, R. Kropatsch, S. Schumacher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

50 Scopus citations


C. difficile-associated diarrhoea occurs commonly in hospitals and is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality. Hospital surfaces are often contaminated with nosocomial pathogens and may be responsible for cross-transmission, especially if hardy Gram-positive and spore-forming organisms are involved. The aim of this study was to quantify C. difficile in the hospital environment near C. difficile-positive and -negative patients using a quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. A total of 531 samples was collected from the clinical environment and classified into three groups according to patient and ward status for C. difficile. As expected, there were significantly higher counts of C. difficile on the floor and in the near environment of C. difficile patients. However, a significant correlation was found between C. difficile counts on the floor and on the hands of patients and healthcare workers (HCWs) in wards without evidence of C. difficile. This suggests that asymptomatic carriage among patients and HCWs can also contribute towards C. difficile transmission in hospitals. In conclusion, C. difficile can be transmitted via personal contact or via contaminated areas of the hospital environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-48
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Hospital Infection
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2009



  • Clostridium difficile
  • Hospital environment
  • Real-time polymerase chain reaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

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