What is
clostridium perfringens?

One of the most common causes of food poisoning in the United States, Clostridium perfringens (C. perfringens) are bacteria that can be found on raw meat and poultry, in the intestines of animals and humans, and in the environment.

Some strains produce a toxin that causes diarrhea. CDC estimates C. perfringens causes nearly 1 million cases of foodborne illness each year in the United States.

What are the sources for C. perfringens?

Beef, poultry, gravies, and other foods cooked in large batches and held at an unsafe temperature.

Outbreaks tend to happen in places that serve large groups of people, such as hospitals, school cafeterias, prisons, nursing homes, and catered events — food left for long periods in steam tables or at room temperature.

C. perfringens outbreaks occur most often in November and December. Many of these outbreaks have been linked to foods commonly served during the holidays, such as turkey and roast beef.

Time and/or temperature abused foods.

What are the symptoms
of C. perfringens? What are the incubation times?

People with C. perfringens food poisoning develop diarrhea and abdominal cramps within 6 to 24 hours after eating contaminated food.

The illness usually begins suddenly and lasts for less than 24 hours. In severe cases, symptoms may last for 1-2 weeks.

who is at risk?

Everyone is at risk for C. perfringens. Young children and older adults are at greater risk.

How is C. perfringens treated?

People afflicted with diarrhea can become dehydrated, so it’s important to drink plenty of fluids.

This infection usually does not cause fever or vomiting, and it cannot be passed from one person to another.

Bacteria can multiply rapidly if food is left in the “danger zone” between 40°F and 140°F.
Never leave perishable food at room temperature (in the danger zone) for longer than 2 hours

how can
c. perfringens food poisoning be prevented?

  • Thoroughly cook foods, particularly meat, poultry, and gravies to a safe internal temperature. Use a food thermometer to be sure.
  • Keep food hot after cooking: 140ºF (60ºC) or above and serve meat dishes hot, within 2 hours of cooking.
  • Microwave leftovers thoroughly (to 165ºF or above)
  • Refrigerate leftovers ASAP or within 2 hours of preparation at 40ºF (4.4ºC) or below.
  • Divide large amounts of food, such as roasts or big pots of chili or stew, into shallow containers and refrigerate immediately. It is okay to put hot foods directly into the refrigerator.

when in doubt, throw it out

Foods that have dangerous bacteria in them may not taste, smell, or look different. Any food that has been left out too long may be dangerous to eat, even if it looks okay.

How do I know
if I have C. perfringens

Clinical laboratories do not routinely test for C. perfringens infection, and public health laboratories usually test for it only when it is the suspected cause of an outbreak

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