Clostridium Species

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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Drug-Resistant Superbugs, Multi-drug Resistant Organisms: MRSA, VRE, Clostridium difficile, and CRE. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Clostridium Species

Clostridium are gram-positive or gram-variable, spore-forming, catalase-negative anaerobic bacilli. More than 100 species are currently recognized, though relatively few are encountered in properly collected clinical specimens from humans. There are three types of infection associated with Clostridium species:
  • Non-invasive: Toxin-mediated
  • Invasive: Progressive infection with tissue destruction
  • Purulent disease: Closed space (eg, in the peritoneal cavity) mixed infection with multiple organisms.
Clostridium are well known as the agents of these classic toxin-mediated diseases:
DISEASETOXIN INVOLVED CAUSATIVE ORGANISM
Tetanus or "lock jaw" Tetanospasmin Clostridium tetani
Myonecrosis/gas gangrene Exotoxins Clostridium perfringens
Botulism (severe food poisoning) Botulin Clostridium botulinum