Effectiveness of screening hospital admissions to detect asymptomatic carriers of Clostridium difficile: a modeling evaluation.


We developed an agent-based transmission model for C. difficile that incorporates screening and contact precautions for asymptomatic carriers in a hospital ward. We simulated scenarios that vary according to screening test characteristics, colonization prevalence, and type of strain present at admission.

Testing for asymptomatic carriers at admission may reduce both the number of new colonizations and HO-CDI cases. Additional reductions could be achieved by preventing disease in patients who are admitted as asymptomatic carriers and developed CDI during the hospital stay.

In our baseline scenario, on average, 42% of CDI cases were community-onset cases. Within the hospital-onset (HO) cases, approximately half were patients admitted as asymptomatic carriers who became symptomatic in the ward. On average, testing for asymptomatic carriers reduced the number of new colonizations and HO-CDI cases by 40%-50% and 10%-25%, respectively, compared with the baseline scenario. Test sensitivity, turnaround time, colonization prevalence at admission, and strain type had significant effects on testing efficacy.

Both asymptomatic and symptomatic Clostridium difficile carriers contribute to new colonizations and infections within a hospital, but current control strategies focus only on preventing transmission from symptomatic carriers. Our objective was to evaluate the potential effectiveness of methods targeting asymptomatic carriers to control C. difficile colonization and infection (CDI) rates in a hospital ward: screening patients at admission to detect asymptomatic C. difficile carriers and placing positive patients into contact precautions.

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