The genus Clostridium consists of Gram-positive anaerobic, spore forming bacilli which are responsible for three major diseases – tetanus (Cl. tetani), gas gangrene (Cl. perfringens,Cl. septicum, Cl. novyi, Cl. histolyticum, Cl. fallax, etc.), andfood poisoning (Cl. botulinum, Cl. perfringens Types A andC). In addition, acute colitis can result from infection with Cl. difficile. Rare cases of intestinal botulism have been caused bytwo other species of Clostridia, known as Clostridium baratii and Clostridium butyricum, which produce type F and type E botulinum-like neurotoxins, respectively. Of the cases reported, illness resulted from intestinal colonisation of the organism.
Clostridia can produce disease only when conditions are favourable. Their invasive powers are limited. Pathogenic clostridia act by elaborating powerful exotoxins.
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