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Clostridium perfringens Food Poisoning
Clostridium perfringens food poisoning results from eating food contaminated by the bacterium Clostridium perfringens. Once in the small intestine, the bacterium releases a toxin that often causes diarrhea.
Some strains cause mild to moderate disease that gets better without treatment, whereas other strains cause severe gastroenteritis (see Overview of Gastroenteritis) that can damage the small intestine and sometimes lead to death. Contaminated beef, poultry, gravies, and dried or precooked foods are usually responsible for outbreaks of Clostridium perfringens food poisoning. Some strains cannot be destroyed by cooking the food thoroughly, whereas others can.
The gastroenteritis starts about 6 to 24 hours after contaminated food is eaten. The most common symptoms are watery diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Although usually mild, the infection also can cause abdominal pain, abdominal expansion (distention) from gas, severe diarrhea, dehydration, and a severe decrease in blood pressure (shock—see Shock). Symptoms usually last about 24 hours.
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