Clostridium difficile-associated disease (CDAD) has become the most frequent nosocomial infection in many European hospitals. Central to the control of epidemics are the deployment of assays able to rapidly diagnose and monitor the presence and spread of the organism. No such tests currently exist for these new hypervirulent C. difficile strains. The EACCAD project sought to develop the urgently required rapid, diagnostic assays in close collaboration with three small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
C. difficile is resistant to various antibiotics; it capitalises on the ensuing disruption of the normal intestinal flora to colonisation and causes disease. The effects of CDAD are devastating, both in terms of morbidity/mortality and the high costs of disease management.
The main aim of EACCAD was the recognition of suitable targets and development of a commercial rapid test that would distinguish variant hypervirulent and antibiotic resistant strains from ordinary C. difficile strains.
European guidelines will be formulated to diagnose CDAD and to combat outbreaks. The introduction of these tests and European guidelines increase the awareness of CDAD as an important nosocomial infection and will be of help to prevent the development of large outbreaks by new hypervirulent variants.