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Clostridium perfringens


Image: CDC

Clostridium perfringens is widely distributed in the environment and foods, and forms part of the normal gut flora in man and animals.

Spores of C. perfringens survive cooking and, during slow cooling and unrefrigerated storage, germinate to form vegetative (growing) cells.

Under optimal growth conditions the organism has a generation time of 10 to 12 minutes, and gastroenteritis often follows ingestion of food containing large numbers of vegetative cells. Food poisoning most often occurs when food (usually meat) is prepared in advance and kept warm for several hours before serving.

Illness generally lasts no more than 24 hours although elderly people may be more seriously affected.

Clostridium perfringens is also responsible for 80-95% of cases of gas gangrene, a rare but very s evere form of gangrene (tissue death).

Clinical information

Incubation period:
8 to 22 hours (usually 12 to 18 hours).

Common clinical features:
Diarrhoea and abdominal pain.

Reservoir:
Gastrointestinal tract of food animals, soil and dust.

Transmission:
Contaminated cooked meat and poultry dishes subjected to inadequate temperature control after cooking, during cooling, and storage.

C. perfringens enterotoxin is produced after ingestion, but not in foods.


Image: CDC

Clostridium perfringens is widely distributed in the environment and foods, and forms part of the normal gut flora in man and animals.

Spores of C. perfringens survive cooking and, during slow cooling and unrefrigerated storage, germinate to form vegetative (growing) cells.

Under optimal growth conditions the organism has a generation time of 10 to 12 minutes, and gastroenteritis often follows ingestion of food containing large numbers of vegetative cells. Food poisoning most often occurs when food (usually meat) is prepared in advance and kept warm for several hours before serving.

Illness generally lasts no more than 24 hours although elderly people may be more seriously affected.

Clostridium perfringens is also responsible for 80-95% of cases of gas gangrene, a rare but very s evere form of gangrene (tissue death).

Clinical information

Incubation period:
8 to 22 hours (usually 12 to 18 hours).

Common clinical features:
Diarrhoea and abdominal pain.

Reservoir:
Gastrointestinal tract of food animals, soil and dust.

Transmission:
Contaminated cooked meat and poultry dishes subjected to inadequate temperature control after cooking, during cooling, and storage.

C. perfringens enterotoxin is produced after ingestion, but not in foods.

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