Clostridium Perfringens

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Clostridium perfringens

What is Clostridium perfringens ?

Clostridium perfringens are spore forming, exotoxin producing, anaerobic, and gram positive bacteria. Spores of Clostridium perfringens are found in the soil. Spore is a metabolically inactive form of Clostridium perfringens. Formation of spore occurs when conditions for survival are poor. By forming spore, Clostridium perfringens can survive many years in the soil. Upon exposure to appropriate environments spores of Clostridium perfringens can germinate into potentially active pathogenic bacteria that cause disease. Clostridium perfringens are also resided in the human and animal colon as normal flora.

Diseases producing clostridium perfringens:

Clostridium perfringens produces two distinct diseases such as gas gangrene and food poisoning, depending upon the route of entry into the body. Gas gangrene results from contamination of wound with soil or feces and food poisoning occurs due to ingestion of contaminated food.

How to develop clostridium perfringens infection:


Spores of Clostridium perfringens in a contaminated wound are germinate into active form under anaerobic condition, and produce a variety of toxins at the site of wound.  The most important toxin is alpha toxin that is a lecithinase, which causes gas gangrene.

After ingestion of contaminated food, preformed enterotoxin of Clostridium perfringens acts in the small intestine and causes diarrhea.

Symptoms of the clostridium perfringens infection:

Severe pain, swelling, and foul-smelling fluid discharged from affected tissues are present in gas gangrene. Watery diarrhea, abdominal pain and mild vomiting are present in Clostridium perfringens food poisoning.

Laboratory diagnosis of the clostridium perfringens infection:

  1. The Clostridium perfringens can be detected from exudates of wound by gram stain smear and also by anaerobic culture.
  2. Large numbers of Clostridium perfringens can be isolated from uneaten food.

Treatment of the clostridium perfringens infection:

  1. In gas gangrene, high dose intravenous penicillin G and clindamycin is given. Surgical debridement of affected tissues should be needed.
  2. In Clostridium perfringens food poisoning, only symptomatic treatment given. No antibiotic is needed.

Prevention of Clostridium perfringens infection:

  1. There is no vaccine is available.
  2. Wound should be cleansed and debrided properly to prevent the germination of spores of Clostridium perfringens.
  3. Food should be adequately cooked to kill the Clostridium perfringens.