Risks of Clostridium perfringens infection

Learn about the risks of Clostridium perfringens infection and who is most at risk.

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The risks of getting Clostridium perfringens infection

You are more likely to become infected if you eat food that is contaminated or at risk of being contaminated.

Clostridium perfringens bacteria are more likely to develop in foods high in protein or starch, such as:

  • stews
  • gravies
  • meat pies
  • thick soups
  • cooked beans
  • dried or precooked foods
  • raw meat, especially poultry and beef

Outbreaks happen more often in institutions where food is:

  • produced in large quantities
  • kept warm for a long time before serving

Such places include:

  • prisons
  • schools
  • hospitals
  • cafeterias
  • long-term care facilities
  • events with catered food

In these institutions, large amounts of food may be prepared in advance and kept warm for a long time before serving. Food kept warm, at temperatures between 12°C to 60°C (68°F to 140°F), gives the bacteria time to grow.

Who is most at risk

Anyone can get sick from Clostridium perfringens. However, those at greater risk of becoming sick include:

  • the elderly
  • young children
  • people with a weakened immune system (ability to fight disease)

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