• Colitis;
  • Diagnosis;
  • ELISA;
  • Equine

Background: Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) is a recognized cause of colitis in the horse. Identification of its toxins is important for management of individual cases and for prevention of transmission and zoonosis. In humans, CDI diagnosis is performed with enzyme immunoassays, none of which have been validated for horses.

Hypothesis/Objectives: (1) Establish which test for CDI diagnosis was more frequently used by diagnostic laboratories, (2) determine the identified test's performance, sensitivity, and specificity, and (3) validate its use in diarrheic horses.

Animals: Samples were obtained from 72 horses presented with acute diarrhea and hospitalized at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph.

Methods: A survey was conducted to establish which of the tests for CDI diagnosis in horses is most commonly used throughout North America. A questionnaire was sent to all laboratories registered in the Veterinary Infection Control Society and the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians. The performance of the test was evaluated by comparison to a cell cytotoxicity assay (CTA), the accepted Gold Standard for C. difficile toxin detection.

Results: The Techlab C. difficile Tox A/B II ELISA was the most frequently used test. Compared with the CTA, no significant difference was observed, and a good level of agreement (93%) was obtained. The diagnostic performance of the ELISA test was adequate (84% sensitivity and 96% specificity).

Conclusions and Clinical Importance: Results demonstrate that the Techlab C. difficile Tox A/B II ELISA is a reliable, adequate, and practical tool for identification of C. difficile toxins in horse feces.