C. perfringens food poisoning is caused by infection with the
Clostridium perfringens (C. perfringens) bacterium. C. perfringens is found
frequently in the
intestines of humans and many animals and is present
in soil and areas contaminated by human or animal feces.
What causes C. perfringens food
In most cases, C. perfringens
food poisoning results when you eat improperly cooked and stored foods.
Normally, bacteria are found on food after cooking, and these bacteria can
multiply and cause C. perfringens food poisoning if the
foods sit out and cool before refrigerating. Commonly infected foods include
meats, meat products, and gravy.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of C. perfringens food poisoning include intense abdominal cramps
and watery diarrhea. Your symptoms usually appear 6 to 24 hours after eating
foods containing large numbers of C. perfringens. The
disease usually is over within 24 hours. Less severe symptoms may last for 1 or
How is C. perfringens food poisoning
Your doctor will do a medical history and
physical exam and ask you questions about your symptoms, foods you have
recently eaten, and your work and home environments. A stool culture and blood
tests may be done to confirm the diagnosis.
How is it treated?
You treat C. perfringens food poisoning by managing any complications until it
Dehydration caused by diarrhea and vomiting is the
most common complication. Do not use medicines, including antibiotics and other
treatments, unless your doctor recommends them.
To prevent dehydration, take
frequent sips of a rehydration drink (such as Pedialyte). Try to drink a cup of water or rehydration drink for each large,
loose stool you have. You can also use a sports drink, such as Gatorade. Soda
and fruit juices have too much sugar and not enough of the important
electrolytes that are lost during diarrhea, and they
should not be used to rehydrate.
Try to stay with a healthy diet as much as possible. Eating healthy foods will help you to get enough
nutrition. Doctors believe that eating a healthy diet will also help you feel
better faster. But try to avoid foods that are high in fat and sugar. Also
avoid spicy foods, alcohol, and coffee for 2 days after all symptoms have
How can I prevent C. perfringens food
You can prevent C. perfringens
food poisoning by cooling and storing foods correctly (adapted from the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
Shop safely. Bag raw meat, poultry, and fish
separately from other food items. Drive home immediately after finishing your
shopping so that you can store all foods properly.
safely. Wash your hands before and after handling food. Also wash them after
using the bathroom or changing diapers. Wash fresh fruits and vegetables by
rinsing them well with running water. If possible, use two cutting boards—one
for fresh produce and the other for raw meat, poultry, and seafood. Otherwise,
be sure to wash the cutting board with hot, soapy water between each use. You
can also wash your knives and cutting boards in the dishwasher to disinfect
Store foods safely. Cook, refrigerate, or freeze meat,
poultry, eggs, fish, and ready-to-eat foods within 2 hours. Make sure your
refrigerator is set at
40°F (4°C) or colder.
Cook foods safely. Use a clean meat thermometer to determine
whether foods are cooked to a safe temperature. Reheat leftovers to at least
165°F (74°C). Do not eat
undercooked hamburger, and be aware of the risk of food poisoning from raw fish
(including sushi), clams, and oysters.
Serve foods safely. Keep
cooked hot foods hot [140°F (60°C) or above] and cold foods cold [40°F (4°C) or below].
Follow labels on food packaging.
Food packaging labels provide information about when to use the food and how to
store it. Reading food labels and following safety instructions will reduce
your chances of becoming ill with food poisoning.
When in doubt,
throw it out. If you are not sure whether a food is safe, don't eat it.
Reheating food that is contaminated will not make it safe. Don't taste
suspicious food. It may smell and look fine but still may not be safe to
It is important to pay particular attention to food
preparation and storage during warm months when food is often served outside.
Bacteria grow faster in warmer weather, so food can spoil more quickly and
possibly cause illness. Do not leave food outdoors for more than 1 hour if the
temperature is above 90°F (32°C), and never leave it outdoors for more than 2 hours.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.