As part of the follow-up investigations associated with an outbreak of severe illness and death among illegal injecting drug users during 2000, 43 cultures of Clostridium novyi type A, 40 C. perfringens type A and 6 isolates of Bacillus cereus were characterised by amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) analysis. Among the 43 C. novyi isolates, 23 different AFLP profiles were detected. The same AFLP profile was detected in isolates from 18 drug users investigated during 2000 from Scotland, England, the Republic of Ireland and Norway and a wound from a patient in 2000 who was not identified as a drug user. Unique AFLP profiles were obtained from four drug users from England and the Republic of Ireland, 10 historical isolates from culture collections, an isolate from food (1989) and three isolates from wounds (1995, 1991, 1988). The 40 C. perfringens isolates were from 13 drug users, the contents of one syringe and two samples of heroin. Sixteen AFLP types of C. perfringens were distinguished and there was little evidence for commonality among the isolates. The AFLP types of C. perfringens from heroin differed and were unique. Six isolates of B. cereus were from four drug users and two samples of heroin. Four different AFLP patterns were distinguished. Three AFLP types were isolated from four drug users. B. cereus isolates from an aspirate and a heroin sample collected from the same drug user were identical, and were also indistinguishable from an isolate from a groin infection in a second drug user. The AFLP type of the isolate from a second and unrelated heroin sample was unique. The AFLP results showed no or very limited evidence for commonality between the different isolates of B. cereus and C. perfringens. In marked contrast, the C. novyi isolates from the majority of the drug users during 2000 were homogeneous, suggesting a common source or clonal selection of a C. novyi type, or both, which either had an adaptive advantage in spore germination, survival or growth following the drug preparation and the injection procedure, or produced a more severe clinical presentation.
On July 19, 2005, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a public health advisory regarding the deaths of four women in the United States after medical abortions with Mifeprex (mifepristone, formerly RU-486; Danco Laboratories, New York, New York) and intravaginal misoprostol. Two of these deaths occurred in 2003, one in 2004, and one in 2005. Two of these U.S. cases had clinical illness consistent with toxic shock and had evidence of endometrial infection with Clostridium sordellii, a gram-positive, toxin-forming anaerobic bacteria. In addition, a fatal case of C. sordellii toxic shock syndrome after medical abortion with mifepristone and misoprostol was reported in 2001, in Canada. All three cases of C. sordellii infection were notable for lack of fever, and all had refractory hypotension, multiple effusions, hemoconcentration, and a profound leukocytosis. C. sordellii previously has been described as a cause of pregnancy-associated toxic shock syndrome.
The recent anthrax outbreak among injecting drug users (IDUs) in Europe has highlighted an ongoing problem with severe illness resulting from spore-forming bacteria in IDUs. We collated the numbers of cases of 4 bacterial illnesses (botulism, tetanus, Clostridium novyi, and anthrax) in European IDUs for 2000 to 2009 and calculated population rates. Six countries reported 367 cases; rates varied from 0.03 to 7.54 per million people. Most cases (92%) were reported from 3 neighboring countries: Ireland, Norway, and the United Kingdom. This geographic variation needs investigation.
A total of 394 children, aged 0-14 years, referred to a paediatric department were investigated for the occurrence of Clostridium difficile, its cytotoxin in faeces, and its clinical significance in a prospective study over one year. Of the children in the investigation, 337 suffered from gastrointestinal diseases or had been treated with antibiotics prior to the investigation. Twenty-four percent of these children had Cl. difficile in one or more faecal samples and toxin was demonstrated in half of these patients. In 18/148 (12%) of the patients with acute gastroenteritis Cl. difficile was isolated as the only pathogen. In contrast, among 57 control children with no gastrointestinal symptoms and no prior antibiotic treatment significantly fewer harboured Cl. difficile (p less than 0.01). Cl. difficile was isolated with similar frequency in children with or without prior antibiotic treatment. Isolation of Cl. difficile was significantly higher in patients under one year of age (p less than 0.001). In 78% of the patients with Cl. difficile the bacteria were found in faeces during the initial two days of hospitalization indicating that most of the cases were community acquired. The occurrence of Cl. difficile was not influenced by seasonal variation and the distribution between sexes was equal.