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July 21, 1969

Clostridium septicum and Malignancy

JAMA. 1969;209(3):410-411. doi:10.1001/jama.1969.03160160046014

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Clostridium septicum, Pasteur's Vibrion septique, was probably the first pathogenic anaerobe to be identified (Pasteur and Joubert, 1877). It has long been associated with traumatic gas gangrene in man and with malignant edema in cattle and braxy in sheep. The organism is readily distinguished from other clostridia by conventional anaerobic bacteriologic procedures and has been isolated from the normal human intestinal tract and from soil, clothing, and animal feces. The extreme pathogenicity of C septicum is related to its lethal alpha toxin. C septicum also produces two hemolysins, a deoxyribonuclease, a hyaluronidase, and a fibrinolysin, enzymes which probably enhance its invasiveness.

Although this species was rather frequently isolated from gas gangrene during World War II, very few civilian infections with C septicum have been reported. In the absence of a grossly contaminated traumatic wound, C septicum infections in otherwise healthy individuals appear to be extremely rare. In contrast to the