Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) is one of the most common hospital-acquired infections and is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Since owning a cat or dog could enrich the gut microbiome, we hypothesized that it would be protective against CDI.
We conducted a survey study on patients tested for CDI in order to assess whether living in the presence of a pet is associated with a decreased risk of CDI.
We surveyed subjects aged 18-90 over a 14-month period using a retrospective case-control design. Subjects with CDI were matched by gender and age to patients who tested negative and had no prior history of CDI. A web-based survey was provided to subjects by mail or assisted by phone. Conditional logistic regression was used to assess for associations between CDI and the various risk factors.
205 CDI positive and 205 CDI negative subjects (response rate of 50.2%) were included. After matching for age and sex, living with a cat or dog was not associated with negative CDI testing. Exploratory multivariable modeling identified an unexpected association between positive CDI testing and high meat intake (OR 2.13, 95% CI 1.21-3.77) as well as between positive CDI testing and cat allergies (OR 1.88, 95% CI 1.02-3.46).
Living with a cat or dog was not associated with negative CDI testing. Several novel risk factors for CDI have been identified including high meat intake and cat allergies.