Notes on Clostridium

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Genus: Clostridium.

• Gram-positive, spore-forming, anaerobic rod.

• Found in soil; vegetative cells live in anaerobic organisms.

• Their spores can withstand extreme climate.

• Vegetative cells can arise from soil and can cause diseases like tetanus (by Clostridium tetani) and gas gangrene (by Clostridium perfringes), and botulism (by Clostridium botulinum).

• Are normal inhabitants of intestines of humans and other animals.

Clostridium tetani.

• Soil.

• Spread by puncture wounds.

• Produces tetanus toxin.


• Tetanus.

Tetanus toxin:

• Blocks inhibitory transmitters glycine and GABA; binds to ganglioside receptors.


• Hyperimmune human globulin (TIG) with metronidazole or penicillin; and spasmolytic drugs (diazepam).


• DTaP, DTP, or Td.

Clostridium botulinum.

• Gram + spore-forming, anaerobic rod.

• Found in soil/dust.

Botulinum toxin:

• A-B polypeptide neurotoxin.

• Absorbed by gut; blocks release of ACh causing flaccid paralysis.

• Three types: adult/food borne (poorly canned vegetables), infant (honey), and wound (traumatic implantation of spores).

Clostridium perfringens.

• Anaerobic, Gram + spore forming rod; stormy fermentation on milk media.

• Double zone of beta-hemolysis.

• Found in soil and human colon.


• Alpha toxin: lecithinase; massive hemolysis, tissue destruction, and hepatic toxicity.

• Nageler's reaction +: identifies alpha toxin.

• Enterotoxin: water diarrhea, and cramps.


• Gas gangrene (myonecrosis): pain, fever, tachycardia, debridement. Rapid high mortality.

• Food poisoning: reheated meat dishes; enterotoxin.

Clostridium difficile.

• Antibiotic associated diarrhea, colitis, or pseudomembranous colitis.


• A: enterotoxin damaging mucosa leading to fluid increase, and attracting granulocytes.

• B: cytotoxin: cell toxin.


• Metronidazole (vancomycin).

Additional Readings:

Basic Bacteriology

1. Bacterial Locations and Toxins
2. Growth Medias and Oxygen Requirements
3. Staphylococus
4. Streptococcus
5. Enterococcus
6. Bacillus
7. Listeria
8. Corynebacterium
9. Actinomyces
10. Nocadria
11. Mycobacterium
12. Clostridium
13. Neisseria
14. Pseudomonas
15. Legionella
16. Bordetella
17. Francisella
18. Brucella
19. Campylobacter
20. Escherichia
21. Shigella
22. Klebsiella
23. Salmonella
24. Yersinia
25. Proteus
26. Vibrio
27. Pasteurella
28. Haemophilus
29. Bacteriodes and Prevotella
30. Treponema
31. Borrelia
32. Rickettsia
33. Coxiella
34. Ehrlichia
35. Chlamydia
36. Mycoplasma
37. What is an ELEK's Test?
38. Causes of Orchitis
39. What is Leprosy?
40. What is Folliculitis?
41. What is Botulism?
42. How to interpret PPD (Purified Protein Derivative) results?
43. Prenatal Infections

Related Topics

1. Bacterial vs viral infections

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