Clin Microbiol Infect 2011; 17: 888–893
Since 2000, the epidemiology of C. difficile infections (CDI) has changed in the US and Europe. Few population-based assessments of both incidence and case fatality of CDI have been performed. In this study, the Finnish nationwide laboratory-based surveillance data from the year 2008 were analysed to assess the incidence and case fatality of CDI, and to detect regional differences in relation to molecular epidemiology. A total of 6201 episodes of CDI were identified (118.3/100 000 population; range by regions, 57.2–189.1). The incidence increased by age and was highest in persons aged >84 years (1286.0). Of the CDI episodes, 711 (11.5%; range by regions, 2.2–15.0%) led to death within 30 days. The 30-day case fatality was highest (22.0%) in persons aged >84 years. In total, 334 (5% of all episodes) isolates from 13/21 regions were sent for genotyping: 120 (36%) were of PCR ribotype 027, and it was found in 6/13 regions. Among the rest of the isolates, 53 (16%) were of type 001, and 19 (6%) of 002 and 014. The incidence and case fatality were highest in elderly persons and varied regionally. This may be explained by uneven spread of hypervirulent PCR ribotypes, such as 027, but also differences in diagnostic activity or the patient populations among which the outbreaks are occurring.