Evaluation of Clostridium difficile and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus contamination of retail chicken meat

Abstract number: P1374

Weese J.S., Avery B., Rousseau J., Reid-Smith R.

Objectives: Concern has been raised about the potential for foodborne transmission of MRSA and C. difficile, yet there has been minimal investigation of these pathogens in chickens or retail chicken meat. This study evaluated the prevalence of C. difficile contamination of retail meat.

Methods: Chicken wings, legs and thighs were purchased from retail outlets in Ontario, Canada as part of the Canadian Integrated Program for Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance. Samples rinsed in phosphate buffered saline. 1 ml of rinse was added to 9 ml enrichment broth (CDMN with sodium taurocholate), which was incubated for 24 h then inoculated onto CDMN agar. Isolates were characterised by ribotyping, PCR for detection of toxin A, B and CDT (binary toxin) genes and sequencing of the regulatory gene tcdC.

Results:C. difficile was isolated from 16/83 (19%) samples; 8/50 (16%) thighs, 6/28 (21%) wings, 2/5 (40%) legs (P = 0.40). All 12 tested isolates were ribotype 078 (toxinotype V), possessed genes encoding toxins A, B and CDT, and had a deletion and mutation in tcdC. MRSA was not isolated from any sample.

Discussion: This study provides further evidence that C. difficile contamination of retail meat may be rather common. The finding of the potentially food-animal-associated ribotype 078 was somewhat surprising in light of a recent study reporting diversity of C. difficile types in chickens. The absence of MRSA is in contrast to recent studies of retail beef and pork in Canada, but is perhaps not surprising since MRSA has not yet been reported in poultry in North America. The clinical relevance of C. difficile contamination is unclear but further investigation of food in the epidemiology of community-associated C. difficile infection, as well as evaluation of sources of contamination and measures to reduce contamination, are indicated.

Session Details

Date: 16/05/2009
Time: 00:00-00:00
Session name: 19th European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
Location: Helsinki, Finland, 16 - 19 May 2009
Presentation type:
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