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Diseases & Topics

Clostridium perfringens

Causing more than one million cases of foodborne illness each year in the United States, Clostridium perfringens (C. perfringens) is one of the most common causes of foodborne illness.

Capable of producing a harmful, disease-causing toxin, C. perfringens is a spore-forming gram-positive bacterium found in many environmental sources and in the intestines of humans and animals, and is commonly found on raw meat and poultry. People can get sick when they ingest the bacteria and toxins, particularly from food that has not been fully cooked or that has been stored at incorrect temperatures. The illness is not passed from one person to another.

People infected with C. perfringens develop watery diarrhea and abdominal cramps within six to 24 hours (typically eight to 12) after ingestion. They do not usually have fever or vomiting. The illness usually begins suddenly and lasts for less than 24 hours; however, complications may occur as a result of dehydration.

For Additional Information

  • CDC: Clostridium perfringens External link
  • FDA: Bad Bug Book External link - Primarily technical, this handbook also provides consumer-focused "snapshots" with basic information about the major known bacteria, viruses, parasites and natural toxins that cause foodborne illness and how to avoid getting sick.