Clostridium is a bacterium that comprises the species perfringens, tetani, botualinum, and difficile. The clostridia can be deadly, comprising some of the worst diseases that the medical community encounters.
Food borne botulism, the technical name of the disease, is a very dangerous food poisoning that can be found in canned food that has not been properly prepared. Most incidences are attributed to home canning, but foods produced commercially have been know to cause outbreaks. It can be found in canned foods including vegetables, tuna fish, chicken, luncheon meats, ham, sausage and lobster. Symptoms include double vision, slurred speech, weakness, paralysis and eventual respiratory failure.
Another food borne bacteria coming from clostridium is perfringens. The bacterium causes toxins that grow to high levels causing food poisoning. Cooked food that has been left out for hours is usually the host. It is most often found in institutional settings like schools, cafeterias, and hospitals, often attacking meats and gravy. Food poisoning caused by perfringens usually starts with diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain
Clostridium tetani causes tetanus due to a puncture wound or a trauma that leads to tissue contamination. The contamination invades the body and can cause cardiac failure in approximately 55 to 65 percent of those infected. A vaccine is available for tetanus. It is usually given in childhood and every ten years. It can also be administered at the time an injury occurs.
Perfringens that causes food borne illnesses can also cause another deadly illness called gas gangrene. Infection of a wound can lead to death within one to five days. The disease is often fatal. Gas gangrene infects a wound immediately causing the surrounding tissue to die. It may turn black or a dark green color, and have a foul odor. Fever and pain will develop around the wound and may be the first indicator. Amputation is a normal course of action to keep the infection from spreading. It is also treated with hyperbaric oxygen, and chelating agents. Antibiotics are used but not always successful.
The c. difficile bacteria produces two toxins that are usually eliminated by the normal bacteria in the intestines. When someone takes antibiotics it can destroy the normal bacteria that lives in the intestines and the toxins can grow. Onset is exhibited by diarrhea and abdominal pain. Fatality rates are 27 to 44 percent if not treated.
FDA: BBB-Clostridium perfringens
Southern Illinois University Carbondale: Medical Microbiology
(c) 2014 Vickie Van Antwerp