Hypervirulent strains of C. difficile seen in Australia

A West Australian hospital has reported the first laboratory-confirmed death as a result of C. difficile ribotype 017.

“Royal Perth Hospital recorded a case of 017 C. difficile infection earlier this year,” said Associate Professor Christopher Heath, head of the hospital’s Infectious Diseases Service.

“The patient was admitted to the hospital... and unfortunately died from complications.” The 017 strain was endemic in Asia but rarely seen in Australia, said microbiology expert Professor Thomas Riley from the University of Western Australia. 

Another strain, 027, was also causing a surge in disease in North America and community transmission has been seen in Australia since early 2010, he said.

Australia’s first 027 case was recorded in Western Australia in 2009 but the strain had since emerged in nursing homes in Melbourne and Sydney.

“My feeling is that this organism is now