Dogs as carriers of virulent and resistant genotypes of Clostridioides difficile
in: Zoonoses and Public Health (2022)
While previous research on zoonotic transmission of community-acquired Clostridioides difficile infection (CA-CDI) focused on food-producing animals, the present study aimed to investigate whether dogs are carriers of resistant and/or virulent C. difficile strains. Rectal swabs were collected from 323 dogs and 38 C. difficile isolates (11.8%) were obtained. Isolates were characterized by antimicrobial susceptibility testing, whole-genome sequencing (WGS) and a DNA hybridization assay. Multilocus sequence typing (MLST), core genome MLST (cgMLST) and screening for virulence and antimicrobial resistance genes were performed based on WGS. Minimum inhibitory concentrations for erythromycin, clindamycin, tetracycline, vancomycin and metronidazole were determined by E-test. Out of 38 C. difficile isolates, 28 (73.7%) carried genes for toxins. The majority of isolates belonged to MLST sequence types (STs) of clade I and one to clade V. Several isolates belonged to STs previously associated with human CA-CDI. However, cgMLST showed low genetic relatedness between the isolates of this study and C. difficile strains isolated from humans in Austria for which genome sequences were publicly available. Four isolates (10.5%) displayed resistance to three of the tested antimicrobial agents. Isolates exhibited resistance to erythromycin, clindamycin, tetracycline and metronidazole. These phenotypic resistances were supported by the presence of the resistance genes erm(B), cfr(C) and tet(M). All isolates were susceptible to vancomycin. Our results indicate that dogs may carry virulent and antimicrobial-resistant C. difficile strains.