. Prior colonisation of clindamycin-treated hamsters with non-toxigenic strains of protected them from subsequent colonisation with a toxigenic pathogenic strain. In total, 13 of 18 ‘protected’ hamsters survived for up to 27 days whereas all 27 animals challenged with the toxigenic strain alone died within 48 h. Protection was not evident if a heat-killed suspension was used or if the colonising non-toxigenic strain was first removed with vancomycin. No antitoxic activity could be detected in the faeces of animals colonised with the non-toxigenic strains. Other species of clostridia did not protect against the lethal effects of subsequent exposure to the toxigenic strain. Conversely, non-toxigenic strains would not protect the animals from the lethal effects of a different clostridial pathogen, . In most cases, even in the protected animals, the toxigenic strain eventually became dominant and caused disease, with translocation across the gut wall occurring early in the disease process. It was also shown that a non-toxigenic strain of can adhere to gut mucosa. It is proposed that the protection afforded by the non-toxigenic strains may be due to competition for ecological niches.


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