Molecular methods for detecting and typing of Clostridium difficile

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Since the early 2000s, Clostridium difficile has emerged as a major international pathogen. Recently, strains of C. difficile in circulation appear to be changing, with greater diversity, leading to challenges for diagnostics and surveillance. Currently molecular diagnostic methods are favoured for their high sensitivity and rapid processing times; however, a number of issues still exist with molecular tests, in particular high cost, low clinical specificity and failure to detect some variant C. difficile strains. Molecular typing methods are used to determine the continually evolving epidemiology of C. difficile infection. Typing methods including PCR ribotyping and pulsed field gel electrophoresis are currently popular in Europe and North America, respectively, while high-throughput next-generation sequencing is likely to become more widely used in years to come. This review discusses current molecular detection and typing techniques for C. difficile.

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