To investigate two clusters of diarrhoea cases observed in our geriatric hospital wards, the faecal specimens were analysed. Reversed passive latex agglutination assay revealed that 63·2% and 41·7% of the faecal specimens from each cluster were positive for Clostridium perfringens enterotoxin. PCR assay revealed that 71·4% and 68·8% of C. perfringens isolates from each cluster were positive for the enterotoxin gene (cpe). These observations suggested that both the clusters were outbreaks caused by enterotoxigenic C. perfringens. Subsequent pulsed-field gel electrophoresis analysis revealed that the two outbreaks were caused by different C. perfringens isolates. However, these outbreak isolates as well as other sporadic diarrhoea isolates shared a 75-kb plasmid on which the cpe gene and the tcp locus were located. The 75-kb plasmid had horizontally spread to various C. perfringens isolates and had caused outbreaks and sporadic infections. However, the site and time of the plasmid transfer are unclear.
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