Over 200 cryptosporidiosis outbreaks have been reported, but little is known if other enteric pathogens were also involved in some of these outbreaks. Recently, an outbreak of cryptosporidiosis linked to poor hygiene by two Cryptosporidium hominis subtypes occurred in a pediatric hospital ward (Ward A) in China, lasting for more than 14 months. In this study, the concurrence during the outbreak of three other enteric pathogens with a similar transmission route, Giardia duodenalis, Enterocytozoon bieneusi, and Clostridium difficile, was assessed.
The occurrence of G. duodenalis, E. bieneusi, and C. difficile in 78 inpatients from Ward A and 283 and 216 inpatients from two control wards (Wards C and D) in the same hospital was examined using molecular diagnostic tools. Significantly higher infection rates were found in children in Ward A for all study pathogens than in Wards C and D ( P<0.01): 9.5% versus 1.4% and 0% for G. duodenalis, 10.8% versus 2.8% and 3.7% for E. bieneusi, and 60.8% versus 37.8% and 27.8% for C. difficile, respectively. These differences were mostly seen in children ≤12 months. Enteric pathogen-positive children in Ward A (31/58 or 53.4%) were more likely to have mixed infections than those in Ward C (4/119 or 3.4%) or D (5/68, 7.4%; P<0.01). Having cryptosporidiosis was a risk factor for G. duodenalis (OR = 4.3; P = 0.08), E. bieneusi (OR = 3.1; P = 0.04), and C. difficile (OR = 4.7; P<0.01) infection. In addition, a lower diversity of G. duodenalis, E. bieneusi, and C. difficile genotypes/subtypes was observed in Ward A.
The transmission of Giardia duodenalis, Enterocytozoon bieneusi, and Clostridium difficile is poorly understood in developing countries despite their wide occurrence. Because they are transmitted by the same fecal-oral route as Cryptosporidium, in this study, we have examined the occurrence of these enteric pathogens in children during a cryptosporidiosis outbreak in a pediatric hospital in China. Using molecular diagnostic tools, we have detected significantly higher infection rates of these enteric pathogens in the outbreak ward than in two control wards in the same hospital. We have also shown a much higher occurrence of these pathogens in children having cryptosporidiosis than those having no cryptosporidiosis. We have demonstrated that the genetic diversity of enteric pathogens is much lower in the outbreak ward than in control wards. Therefore, other enteric pathogens are concurrently present during the cryptosporidiosis outbreak, and examinations for multiple enteric pathogens should be conducted when poor hygiene is considered the likely cause of outbreaks of diarrhea.