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What are some features of the Clostridium perfringens bacterium?

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Quick Answer

Clostridium perfringens is a rod-shaped anaerobic bacteria with the ability to form spores, according to Todar's Online Textbook of Bacteriology. It is widely found in soil, sediments and the intestinal tracts of humans and animals. Certain strains may cause food poisoning, fatal intestinal infections and gas gangrene.

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Full Answer

Clostridium perfringens is non-mobile and exists in the environment as hardy endospores, which are resistant to heat and chlorination. After the endospore germinates, the bacteria begin to ferment organic compounds for energy, a process that creates a foul odor.

There are five types of Clostridium perfringens. The Type A strain produces toxins that may cause food poisoning, especially in hospital and cafeteria settings where meat products are stored in bulk and not sufficiently reheated before serving, according to the Food and Drug Administration. The bacteria may also be ingested through fecal-contaminated food. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that there are over 10,000 annual cases of Clostridium perfringens food poisoning in the United States.

Clostridium perfringens may also cause wound infections that lead to gas gangrene in rare instances, notes Todar's Online Textbook of Bacteriology. Gas gangrene results from bacterial fermentation and the condition may be fatal if not promptly treated. The Type C strain causes fatal necrotic enteritis, also known as pig-bel syndrome, explains the Food and Drug Administration. In these cases, poisoned intestinal tissue begins to die and bacteria infect the bloodstream.

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