A possible role for Clostridium difficile in the etiology of calf enteritis

Melissa C. Hammitt, Dawn M. Bueschel, M. Kevin Keel, Robert D. Glock, Peder Cuneo, Donald W. DeYoung, Carlos Reggiardo, Hien T. Trinh, J. Glenn Songer

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    73 Scopus citations


    Clostridium difficile was investigated as a possible cause of enteritis in calves. The organism and its toxins (TcdA and TcdB), respectively, were found in 25.3% and 22.9% of stool samples from diarrheic calves. Culture positive samples were more likely than culture negative samples to be toxin positive. However, toxin positive stools were more common among nondiarrheic calves, but diarrheic calves were nearly twice as likely to be culture positive. Ribotype 078 was dominant among isolates. Salmonella sp. was isolated from both diarrheic and nondiarrheic calves, but large numbers of E. coli were found more commonly in diarrheic calves than in nondiarrheic animals. Prevalence rates for coronavirus and Cryptosporidium sp. were substantially higher in nondiarrheic calves than in diarrheic, but rates of detection of rotavirus and Giardia sp. were more nearly equal between groups. Lesions in naturally infected calves included superficial mucosal erosion with associated fibrinous exudates. Neutrophils and eosinophils infiltrated lamina propria. Large Gram-positive rods morphologically compatible with C. difficile were abundant in the colonic lumen and the organism was isolated by bacteriologic culture. Toxins were found throughout the colon. Purified toxins A and B (individually and conjointly) caused comparable lesions, as well as fluid accumulation, in ligated intestinal loops. Our findings are in substantial agreement with those of others [Rodriguez-Palacios, A., Stampfli, H.R., Duffield, T., Peregrine, A.S., Trotz-Williams, L.A., Arroyo, L.G., Brazier, J.S., Weese, J.S., 2006. Clostridium difficile PCR ribotypes in calves, Canada. Emerg. Infect. Dis. 12, 1730-1736; Porter, M.C., Reggiardo, C., Bueschel, D.M., Keel, M.K., Songer, J.G., 2002. Association of Clostridium difficile with bovine neonatal diarrhea. Proc. 45th Ann. Mtg. Amer. Assoc. Vet. Lab. Diagn., St. Louis, MO, U.S.A.] and add strength to a working hypothesis that C. difficile infection and the accompanying intoxication can manifest as diarrhea in calves. It seems clear that calves serve as multiplying hosts for this organism.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)343-352
    Number of pages10
    JournalVeterinary Microbiology
    Issue number3-4
    StatePublished - Mar 18 2008


    • Calves
    • Clostridium difficile
    • Enteritis
    • Toxin A
    • Toxin B

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Microbiology
    • veterinary(all)


    Dive into the research topics of 'A possible role for Clostridium difficile in the etiology of calf enteritis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this