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Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases and Medical Microbiology
Volume 20, Issue 4, Pages e169-e172
Original Article

A Study of the Prevalence of Cytotoxic and Non-Cytotoxic Klebsiella oxytoca Fecal Colonization in Two Patient Populations

Stephen A Smith,1 Sarah J Campbell,1 Duncan Webster,2 Michael Curley,1,3 Desmond Leddin,1,3 and Kevin R Forward1,4

1Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
2Department of Medicine, Saint John Regional Hospital, Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada
3Division of Gastroenterology, Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
4Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Copyright © 2009 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


BACKGROUND: Klebsiella oxytoca is a cause of antibiotic-associated hemorrhagic colitis. Few reports of the occurrence of K oxytoca within stool exist and there is no gold standard method for its isolation.

METHODS: MacConkey agar was modified to culture K oxytoca. Ampicillin was added and adonitol was substituted for lactose. Rectal swabs from 200 patients being screened for vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) and stool specimens from 429 patients who tested negative for Clostridium difficile cytotoxin were cultured. K oxytoca isolates were evaluated for cytotoxicity to HEp-2 cells. Available charts of K oxytoca-positive patients and a convenience sample of 93 K oxytoca-negative patients who underwent testing for C difficile cytotoxicity were reviewed retrospectively for documentation of bloody stool.

RESULTS: K oxytoca was isolated from 14 of 200 patients (7.0%) being screened for VRE; only one of the 14 isolates (7.1%) was cytotoxic. The organism was isolated from 42 of 429 patients (9.8%) tested for C difficile cytotoxicity; 10 isolates (23.8%) were cytotoxic. Differences in isolation and cytotoxicity rates between groups were not statistically significant. Two of 13 (15.4%) K oxytoca-positive patients screened for VRE, three of 27 (11.1%) K oxytoca-positive patients tested for C difficile cytotoxicity, and 11 of 93 (11.8%) patients from the convenience sample had documented bloody stool.

CONCLUSIONS: A medium that greatly facilitates isolation of K oxytoca was developed. Occurrence of K oxytoca colonization was similar in the two patient populations studied and isolation of cytotoxic K oxytoca was not usually associated with hematochezia. Current understanding of the occurrence and causality of antibiotic-associated hemorrhagic colitis is insufficient for clinical laboratories to begin culturing K oxytoca and testing for cytotoxicity.