The housefly Musca domestica as a mechanical vector of Clostridium difficile


Background - Clostridium difficile is a bacterial healthcare-associated infection that may be transferred by houseflies (Musca domestica) due to their close ecological association with humans and cosmopolitan nature. Aim - To determine the ability of M. domestica to transfer C. difficile both mechanically and following ingestion. Methods - M. domestica were exposed to independent suspensions of vegetative cells and spores of C. difficile, then sampled on to selective agar plates immediately postexposure and at 1-h intervals to assess the mechanical transfer of C. difficile. Fly excreta was cultured and alimentary canals were dissected to determine internalization of cells and spores. Findings - M. domestica exposed to vegetative cell suspensions and spore suspensions of C. difficile were able to transfer the bacteria mechanically for up to 4 h upon subsequent contact with surfaces. The greatest numbers of colony-forming units (CFUs) per fly were transferred immediately following exposure (mean CFUs 123.8 +/− 66.9 for vegetative cell suspension and 288.2 +/− 83.2 for spore suspension). After 1 h, this had reduced (21.2 +/− 11.4 for vegetative cell suspension and 19.9 +/− 9 for spores). Mean C. difficile CFUs isolated from the M. domestica alimentary canal was 35 +/− 6.5, and mean C. difficile CFUs per faecal spot was 1.04 +/− 0.58. C. difficile could be recovered from fly excreta for up to 96 h. Conclusion - This study describes the potential for M. domestica to contribute to environmental persistence and spread of C. difficile in hospitals, highlighting flies as realistic vectors of this micro-organism in clinical areas.

Publication DOI:
Divisions: College of Engineering & Physical Sciences > School of Informatics and Digital Engineering > Electrical and Electronic Engineering
College of Health & Life Sciences > School of Biosciences
College of Health & Life Sciences
College of Health & Life Sciences > Chronic and Communicable Conditions
College of Health & Life Sciences > School of Biosciences > Cell & Tissue Biomedical Research
Additional Information: © 2016, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
Uncontrolled Keywords: Clostridium difficile,Housefly,Infection control,Musca domestica,Pest control,Microbiology (medical),Infectious Diseases
Publication ISSN: 1532-2939
Full Text Link:
Related URLs: http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2016-11
Published Online Date: 2016-09-01
Accepted Date: 2016-08-23
Submitted Date: 2016-07-05
Authors: Davies, M.P.
Anderson, M.
Hilton, A.C. (ORCID Profile 0000-0001-8025-5270)



Version: Published Version

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