Clostridium Perfringens



  • Large, rectangular, non-motile, sporeforming, gram (+), capsulated, arranged singly or in pairs
  • Grows well in cooked meat and milk media under anaerobic conditions
  • Ferments glucose, fructose, and lactose in milk medium with production of large amounts of gas – hence the name “gas bacillus” giving a characteristic “stormy fermentation of milk” in this medium
  • Common inhabitants of the soil, street dust and feces or manure of herbivorous animals
  • Causes gas gangrene


  • This is brought about when the bacilli invade the tissues of the body through deep punctured wounds due to vehicular accidents, gunshot wounds, compound fracture of postpartum uterus.
  • Inside the tissues, the organism grows especially in the muscle fibers with such vigor that the pressure of accumulated gas tears the tissues apart.
  • The infection spread in 1 to 3 days to produce crepitation (filling of air inside the tissue).


  • Ingestion of contaminated foods
  • Via skin through contaminated wounds (gunshot wounds or vehicular accident wounds)


  • The involved extremity produces foul smelling discharges due to pyogenic formation and is characterized by a thin, brownish body fluid which on slight touch results to emission of bubbles of gas.
  • The tissues of the wound become greatly swollen, discolored or necrotic (blackish discoloration) and infiltrated with gas.
  • There is fever, toxemia, shock and later death.


  • Serve meals hot, as soon as they are cooked.
  • Cool foods rapidly, refrigerate until serving time, reheat if necessary.
  • Early and adequate cleansing of contaminated wounds.
  • Prompt surgical treatment of wounds.
  • Administration of antimicrobial drugs directed against clostridia
  • Gas gangrene antitoxin for suspected wounds.
  • Passive immunity with gas gangrene antitoxin for deep punctured wounds suspected of being contaminated with Clostridium Perfringens.


  • Prompt and extensive surgical debridement of the involved area and excision of all devitalized tissues in which the organism are prone to grow.
  • Administration of penicillin at the same time.
  • Hyperbaric oxygen may be of help in the medical management of the clostridia tissue infections.

Photo credit:

Daisy Jane Antipuesto RN MN

Currently a Nursing Local Board Examination Reviewer. Subjects handled are Pediatric, Obstetric and Psychiatric Nursing. Previous work experiences include: Clinical instructor/lecturer, clinical coordinator (Level II), caregiver instructor/lecturer, NC2 examination reviewer and staff/clinic nurse. Areas of specialization: Emergency room, Orthopedic Ward and Delivery Room. Also an IELTS passer.

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