Studies find C. difficile in meats

18-10-2006 | |

Scientists have found Clostridium difficile bacteria in a variety of ground and processed meats bought from stores in the US and Canada.

Two teams found C. difficile  spores in samples of cuts of pork, pork sausage, chorizo, summer sausage, liverwurst and also in ground beef, veal and turkey.

The discovery, made by teams under Dr Glenn Songer (University of Arizona) and Dr Scott Weese (Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph), is called unexpected. Experts say it may be linked to disease pattern changes.

Heavy outbreaks

Some of the inspected meats contained the hypervirulent C. difficile strain responsible for heavy outbreaks in hospitals in Quebec, Britain and the US over the past few years. In Quebec alone, the strain is blamed for about 2,000 deaths in 2003 and 2004.
It has been known for about 25 years that C. difficile is a cause of severe diarrhoea, typically in elderly people in hospital taking antibiotics.
Recently, C. difficile-associated disease has undergone unexplained shifts – some deaths in younger people, more infections outside hospitals.
Experts say the meat finding may provide a clue and must be explored.
It is too early to conclude people can develop the sometimes fatal C. difficile diarrhoea by eating meat containing the bacterium, experts insisted.
Nearly 30% of the meats tested in Arizona and 18% tested in Ontario contained C. difficile. The Guelph team did not find the human epidemic strain.
Click here for more information on clostridial infection in pigs.
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