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Open Access Research article

Prevalence of Clostridium difficile in raw beef, cow, sheep, goat, camel and buffalo meat in Iran

Ebrahim Rahimi1*, Mohammad Jalali2 and J Scott Weese3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Food Hygiene, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Shahrekord Branch, Islamic Azad University, P.O. Box: 166 Shahrekord, Iran

2 Infectious Disease and Tropical Medicine Research Center and School of Food Science and Nutrition, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran

3 Department of Pathobiology, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:119  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-119

Published: 5 February 2014



Clostridium difficile has been shown to be a nosocomial pathogen associated with diarrhoea and pseudomembranous colitis in hospitalised patients and the infection is believed to be acquired nosocomially. Recent studies have shown the occurrence of C. difficile in food animals which may act as a source of infection to humans.The aim of this study was to determine the occurrence of C. difficile in retail raw beef, cow, sheep, goat, camel and buffalo meat in Iran.


From April to October 2012, a total of 660 raw meat samples from beef, cow, sheep, goat, camel and buffalo were purchased from 49 butcheries in Isfahan and Khuzestan provinces, Iran, and were evaluated for the presence of C. difficile using a method including selective enrichment in C. difficile broth, subsequent alcohol shock-treatment and plating onto C. difficile selective medium. C. difficile isolates were tested for the presence of toxin genes and were typed using PCR ribotyping.


In this study, 13 of 660 meat samples (2%) were contaminated with C. difficile. The highest prevalence of C. difficile was found in buffalo meat (9%), followed by goat meat (3.3%), beef meat (1.7%), cow (0.94%) and sheep meat (0.9%). Seven of the 13C. difficile strains (53.9%) were positive for tcdA, tcdB and cdtB toxin genes and were classified as ribotype 078. Four strains (30.8%) were positive tcdA, and tcdB, and one strain (7.7%) was possessed only tcdB. The remaining isolate was non-toxigenic. Susceptibilities of 13C. difficile isolates were determined for 11 antimicrobial drugs using the disk diffusion assay. Resistance to clindamycin, gentamycin, and nalidixic acid was the most common finding.


To our knowledge, the present study is the first report of the isolation of C. difficile from raw buffalo meat. This study indicates the potential importance of food, including buffalo meat, as a source of transmission of C. difficile to humans.

Clostridium difficile; Raw meat; Camel; Buffalo; Beef; Antimicrobial resistance