Clostridium difficile, associated with a wide spectrum of diseases in humans, as well as in several animal species, is an important cause of colitis in adult horses and foals. The aim of this study was to investigate by toxin gene profile and PCR-ribotyping the molecular characteristics of 14 C. difficile strains isolated from 42 faeces of healthy horses. Both toxin genes, tcdA and tcdB, were present in only 1 isolate (7.1%). Six isolates (42.9%) demonstrated tcdA-. /tcdB+ genotype, and seven isolates (50.0%) were tcdA-/. tcdB-. All strains were binary toxin genes negative (cdtA-/. cdtB-). The PCR-positive strains, except for the tcdA+/. tcdB+ isolate, tested negative for, in vitro, A and/or B toxins production by EIA. Eleven distinct ribotypes were observed.In conclusion, C. difficile can be present in the normal intestinal flora of healthy adult horses, in addition to foals. These animals could therefore play an important role as potential reservoirs of toxigenic strains.
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