Epidemiology and outcomes of Clostridium difficile infection among hospitalised patients: results of a multicentre retrospective study in South Africa
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INTRODUCTION Limited data exist on Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) in low-resource settings and settings with high prevalence of HIV. We aimed to determine baseline CDI patient characteristics and management and their contribution to mortality. METHODS We reviewed adult patients hospitalised with diarrhoea and a C. difficile test result in 2015 from four public district hospitals in the Western Cape, South Africa. The primary outcome measures were risk factors for mortality. Secondary outcomes were C. difficile risk factors (positive vs negative) and CDI treatment. RESULTS Charts of patients with diarrhoea tested for C. difficile (n=250; 112 C. difficile positive, 138 C. difficile negative) were reviewed. The study population included more women (65%). C. difficile-positive patients were older (46.5 vs 40.7 years, p<0.01). All-cause mortality was more common in the C. difficile-positive group (29% vs 8%, p<0.0001; HR 2.0, 95% CI 1.1 to 3.6). Tuberculosis (C. difficile positive 54% vs C. difficile negative 32%, p<0.001), 30-day prior antibiotic exposure (C. difficile positive 83% vs C. difficile negative 46%, p<0.001) and prior hospitalisation (C. difficile positive 55% vs C. difficile negative 22%, p<0.001) were also more common in the C. difficile-positive group. C. difficile positive test result (OR 4.7, 95% CI 2.0 to 11.2; p<0.001), male gender (OR 2.8, 95% CI 1.1 to 7.2; p=0.031) and tuberculosis (OR 2.3, 95% CI 1.0 to 5.0; p=0.038) were independently associated with mortality. Of patients starting treatment, metronidazole was the most common antimicrobial therapy initiated (70%, n=78); 32 C. difficile-positive (29%) patients were not treated. CONCLUSION Patients testing positive for C. difficile are at high risk of mortality at public district hospitals in South Africa. Tuberculosis should be considered an additional risk factor for CDI in populations with high tuberculosis and HIV comorbidity. Interventions for CDI prevention and management are urgently needed.