Key takeaways from ECCMID 2024

This year’s ECCMID, now ESCMID Global, was the 34th congress held in Barcelona and Naomi Chant from Una Health went along to check out the latest innovations and discussion topics in infectious disease. There may not have been any sunshine but there were interesting exhibitions including our partners NG Biotech and TechLab (now part of SSI Diagnostica) and thought-provoking symposiums.

One symposium in particular that got our attention was ‘Combatting the key challenges of CDI for better patient outcomes: an update from the COMPACTE-CDI study group’, including Prof. Mark Wilcox and Kerry Davies. As proud suppliers of TechLab’s gold standard CDI EIA diagnostics, this symposium was of particular interest.

The symposium begun with some of the latest figures on CDI prevalence and mortality, highlighting the public health burden CDI presents.

Throughout the symposium, Jane Freeman’s personal experience of CDI was played, highlighting the impact of antibiotic use as a cause of CDI, the difficulty of getting treatment in the community and the impacts infection has on everyday life.

Due to the association of CDI with hospitalised and elderly patients, cases in the community, often outside this patient demographic are not being tested, leading to underreporting. A recent study conducted by COMPACTE members focussing on testing faecal samples in the community, revealed a 1.3% positivity rate. They found half of all cases in the community went untested, highlighting a blind spot in diagnosis. Most cases were under 65 years old and two thirds had risk factors such as antibiotic use. The failure to conduct community-wide testing not only hampers outbreak detection but also facilitates unchecked transmission. Even among the subset of patients not exposed to antibiotics, the mechanisms of C. difficile colonization and infection remain inadequately understood, highlighting the pressing need for further research and vigilance in monitoring the disease beyond hospitals.

Also touched on was the compliance to ESCMID guidelines on CDI testing, which includes a two step algorithm of NAAT/EIA for toxins or GDH detection followed by EIA confirmation of the toxins. The UK has good compliance at over 95% (of those labs who participated in the survey), with several countries in Europe having much lower compliance.

For further insights into ESCMID guidelines on CDI testing, read our blog post.