Two Distinct Patterns of Clostridium Difficile Diversity Across Europe Indicates Contrasting Routes of Spread.
Eyre DW., Davies KA., Davis G., Fawley WN., Dingle KE., De Maio N., Karas A., Crook DW., Peto TEA., Walker AS., Wilcox MH.
Rates of Clostridium difficile infection vary widely across Europe, as do prevalent ribotypes. The extent of Europe-wide diversity within each ribotype is however unknown.Inpatient diarrhoeal faecal samples submitted on one day in summer and winter (2012-2013) to laboratories in 482 European hospitals were cultured for C. difficile, and isolates ribotyped; those from the 10 most prevalent ribotypes were Illumina whole-genome sequenced. Pairwise single nucleotide differences (SNPs) were obtained from recombination-corrected maximum-likelihood phylogenies. Within each ribotype, country-based sequence clustering was assessed using the ratio of the median SNPs between isolates within versus across different countries using permutation tests. Time-scaled Bayesian phylogenies where used to reconstruct the historic location of each lineage.Sequenced isolates (n=624) were from 19 countries. Five ribotypes had within-country clustering: ribotype-356, only in Italy; ribotype-018, predominantly in Italy; ribotype-176, with distinct Czech and German clades; ribotype-001/072, including distinct German, Slovakian, and Spanish clades; and ribotype-027, with multiple predominantly country-specific clades including in Hungary, Italy, Germany, Romania and Poland. By contrast, we found no within-country clustering for ribotypes 078, 015, 002, 014, and 020, consistent with a Europe-wide distribution. Fluoroquinolone-resistance was significantly more common in within-country clustered ribotypes (p=0.009). Fluoroquinolone-resistant isolates were also more tightly geographically clustered, median (IQR) 43 (0-213) miles between each isolate and the most closely genetically-related isolate vs. 421 (204-680) in non-resistant pairs (p<0.001).Two distinct patterns of C. difficile ribotype spread were observed, consistent with either predominantly healthcare-associated acquisition or Europe-wide dissemination via other routes/sources, e.g. the food chain.