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Volume 51, Number 2, April 2018

Community-onset Clostridium difficile infection at a tertiary medical center in southern Taiwan, 2007–2015 

Chin-Shiang Tsai, Yuan-Pin Hung, Jen-Chieh Lee, Nan-Yao Lee, Po-Lin Chen, Ling-Shan Syue, Ming-Chi Li, Chia-Wen Li, Wen-Chien Ko


Corresponding author:

Department of Internal Medicine, National Cheng Kung University Hospital, Tainan, Taiwan
Department of Medicine, National Cheng Kung University Medical College, Tainan, Taiwan
Corresponding author. Department of Internal Medicine, National Cheng Kung University Hospital, 138, Sheng Li Road, Tainan, 704, Taiwan. 


Background and purpose: 

Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) is well-known as the major cause of infectious diarrhea in hospitalized patients. Community-onset CDI (CO-CDI) is an emerging threat. However, clinical information of CO-CDI in Taiwan remains scarce. 



A retrospective study was conducted at a medical center in southern Taiwan. Symptomatic patients between 2007 and 2015 with C. difficile toxin or tcdB detected in stool were identified as CDI, and were classified as CO-CDI [including community-associated CDI (CA-CDI) and community-onset health care facility-associated CDI (CO-HCFA-CDI)] and health care facility-onset CDI (HCFO-CDI). 



Of 427 patients, 15 (3.5%) were CA-CDI, 49 (11.5%) CO-HCFA-CDI, and 363 (85.0%) HCFO-CDI. Despite major involvement of the elderly (mean age: 66.1 years vs. 69.9 years, p = 0.46), no significant differences were noted between CA-CDI and CO-HCFA-CDI groups, except that solid organ cancer was more common in the CO-HCFA-CDI group. The CO-CDI group more often presented with abdominal pain but had shorter hospital stays and less exposure of proton-pump inhibitors or broad-spectrum antibiotics than the HCFO-CDI group did. The mortality rate related to CDI was 4.7% (3 patients) in the CO-CDI group. Despite a lower in-hospital mortality rate in the CO-CDI group (10.9% vs. 22.0%; p = 0.04), the recurrence rate was similar (10.9% vs. 7.2%; p = 0.3). 



CO-CDI is not common but associated with substantial morbidity and mortality. Physicians should put CDI into consideration among patients who present community-onset fever, diarrhea, or abdominal pain alone or in combination. 


Key words:

Clostridium difficile infection, community onset, diarrhea, Taiwan