Stuart Johnson, MD; Sara A. Kent, MD; Kevin J. O'Leary, MD; Michelle M. Merrigan, MS; Susan P. Sambol, BS; Lance R. Peterson, MD; Dale N. Gerding, MD
Grant Support: By the Department of Veterans Affairs Research Service and a Northwestern University Medical School Intramural Research Grant from the Northwestern Memorial Hospital Intramural Research Grants Programs.
Requests for Single Reprints: Stuart Johnson, MD, Medical Service, Veterans Affairs Chicago Health Care System—Lakeside, 333 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611; e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Current Author Addresses: Drs. Johnson and Gerding: Medical Service, Veterans Affairs Chicago Health Care System—Lakeside, 333 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611.
Drs. Kent and Peterson: Northwestern Memorial Hospital, 251 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611-3058.
Dr. O'Leary: Northwestern University, 675 North St. Clair, Chicago, IL 60611.
Ms. Merrigan and Ms. Sambol: Northwestern University Medical School, 400 East Ontario Street, Chicago, IL 60611.
Author Contributions: Conception and design: S. Johnson, D.N. Gerding.
Analysis and interpretation of the data: S. Johnson, S.A. Kent, K.J. O'Leary, M.M. Merrigan, S.P. Sambol, D.N. Gerding.
Drafting of the article: S. Johnson, S.A. Kent.
Critical revision of the article for important intellectual content: L.R. Peterson, D.N. Gerding.
Final approval of the article: S. Johnson, K.J. O'Leary, M.M. Merrigan, S.P. Sambol, L.R. Peterson, D.N. Gerding.
Provision of study materials or patients: S.A. Kent, K.J. O'Leary.
Obtaining of funding: S. Johnson, D.N. Gerding.
Administrative, technical, or logistic support: L.R. Peterson.
Collection and assembly of data: M.M. Merrigan, S.P. Sambol.
Many clinical laboratories use toxin A immunoassays to test for Clostridium difficile.
To describe the clinical course of a patient infected with a toxin variant strain of C. difficile that was not detected by toxin A immunoassay; to genetically characterize this strain; and to estimate the number of laboratories that use only toxin A immunoassays.
Case report, molecular investigation, and laboratory survey.
Tertiary care hospital in Chicago, Illinois.
An 86-year-old man.
Restriction endonuclease analysis, polymerase chain reaction, and survey of regional clinical laboratories.
An elderly hospitalized man died of advanced pseudomembranous colitis. Four stool specimens submitted over a 2-month period had tested negative on toxin A immunoassay, but a strain of C. difficile with a 1.8-kb deletion of the toxin A gene was recovered from each specimen. This strain, identified as restriction endonuclease analysis type CF4, is closely related to a widely disseminated variant, toxinotype VIII. Toxin A immunoassay was the only test being performed for detection of C. difficile at 31 of 67 (46%) regional clinical laboratories.
Toxin A variant strains of C. difficile cause serious disease and are undetectable in clinical laboratories that use only toxin A immunoassays for C. difficile testing.
Johnson S, Kent SA, O'Leary KJ, et al. Fatal Pseudomembranous Colitis Associated with a Variant Clostridium difficile Strain Not Detected by Toxin A Immunoassay. Ann Intern Med. 2001;135:434–438. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-135-6-200109180-00012
Download citation file:
Published: Ann Intern Med. 2001;135(6):434-438.
Diarrhea, Gastroenterology/Hepatology, Hospital Medicine, Pulmonary/Critical Care.
Results provided by:
Copyright © 2019 American College of Physicians. All Rights Reserved.
Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
Conditions of Use