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Open Access Five Spontaneous Deaths Associated with Clostridium difficile in a Colony of Cotton-Top Tamarins (Saguinus oedipus)

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Clostridium difficile toxin was detected in the feces of five cotton-top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus) that died spontaneously over a period of 10 weeks. Deaths occurred subsequent to antibiotic therapy for infectious diarrhea associated with Campylobacter spp. Relevant clinical signs of disease prior to death included weight loss, watery diarrhea, hematochezia, weakness, and sudden collapse. On histologic examination of the colon at necropsy, pseudomembranous colitis was evident in two cases, a lesion consistent with C. difficile lesions in humans. This finding prompted submission of feces for C. difficile toxin analysis from these five cases. Four of the tamarins were from a single room, and the fifth was housed nearby. The proximity of the cases raises the possibility of environmental contamination by resistant C. difficile spores or fecal spread of the organism as reported in hospitals, day-care centers, and nurseries. The relative importance of C. difficile and its potential role as an unrecognized cause of enteric disease secondary to antibiotic therapy in nonhuman primates is discussed.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 1997

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  • Comparative Medicine (CM), an international journal of comparative and experimental medicine, is the leading English-language publication in the field and is ranked by the Science Citation Index in the upper third of all scientific journals. The mission of CM is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information that expands biomedical knowledge and promotes human and animal health through the study of laboratory animal disease, animal models of disease, and basic biologic mechanisms related to disease in people and animals.

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