Hospital outbreak due to Clostridium difficile ribotype 018 (RT018) in Southern Germany

Fabian K. Berger, Sabine Gfrörer, Sören L. Becker, Rossella Baldan, Daniela Maria Cirillo, Martinique Frentrup, Matthias Steglich, Pit Engling, Ulrich Nübel, Alexander Mellmann, Markus Bischoff, Barbara Gärtner, Lutz von Müller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Clostridium (Clostridioides) difficile is the main cause of nosocomial diarrhoea. Ribotype 018 (RT018) has been recognized as the predominant strain responsible for C. difficile infection (CDI) in Italy, whereas in most other European countries only sporadic RT018 cases occur. Between August and October 2015, a suspected C. difficile outbreak at two associated hospitals in Southern Germany was investigated by comprehensive molecular typing. Surprisingly, RT018 was detected in 9/82 CDI patients, which has never been described before in a German outbreak. Phenotypic analysis revealed fluoroquinolone and macrolide resistance. Genetic subtyping using multiple-locus variable-number tandem-repeat analysis (MLVA) and whole genome sequencing (WGS) was performed and outbreak isolates were directly compared to sporadic German RT018 isolates and to epidemic ones from Milan, Northern Italy. Molecular typing confirmed a hospital outbreak with closely related RT018 isolates. Both, MLVA and WGS revealed high similarity of outbreak strains with epidemic isolates from Italy, but low similarity to other German isolates. Comparison between both typing strategies showed that ribotyping in combination with MLVA was appropriate to identify related isolates and clonal complexes, whereas WGS provided a better discrimination with more detailed information about the phylogenetic relationship of isolates. This is the first hospital outbreak in Germany presumably caused by cross-national transmission of an Italian epidemic RT018 strain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-193
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Medical Microbiology
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2019


  • Antibiotic susceptibility
  • Epidemiology
  • Resistance testing
  • Transmission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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