Clostridium perfringens

Clostridium perfringens is an anaerobic bacterium unable to grow in the presence of free oxygen. It is distributed in the environment and frequently occurs in the intestines of people and many domestic and feral animals. Spores persist in soil, sediments, and areas subject to human or animal faecal pollution.

Perfringens food poisoning is the illness caused by C. perfringens

The common form of perfringens poisoning is characterized by intense abdominal cramps and diarrhea which begin 8-22 hours after consumption of foods containing large numbers of those C. perfringens bacteria capable of producing the food poisoning toxin. The illness is usually over within 24 hours but less severe symptoms may persist in some individuals for 1 or 2 weeks.

A more serious illness is (enteritis necroticans or pig-bel disease) also caused by ingesting food contaminated with Type C strains. Deaths from necrotic enteritis (pig-bel syndrome) are caused by infection and necrosis of the intestines and from resulting septicemia.

Meats, meat products, and gravy are the foods most frequently implicated. Institutional feeding (school cafeterias, hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, etc.) where large quantities of food are prepared several hours

Perfringens poisoning is diagnosed by its symptoms and the typical delayed onset of illness and confirmed by detecting toxin in feces of patients.


MMWR 43(8):1994