Gas Gangrene

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Gas gangrene is one of the most fatal infections. It has a mortality rate of 25% and can be 100% in patients with spontaneous gas gangrene or those with delayed treatment. Gas gangrene is caused by a bacterium called Clostridium perfingens. The bacteria is a gram positive, rod shaped, obligate anaerobe, endo-spore forming, toxin producing prokaryotic cell. It is found in soil, sand, dust, and humans. The Clostridium perfingens are the only anaerobic spore-forming genus found in humans. The bacteria have been found in mucous membranes, the GI tract, and female genital tract.


Gas gangrene is rare only 1,000 to 3,000 cases annually in the U.S. It is seen in patients in the age ranges of 15 to 25 and 60 to 70 years of age. The bacteria enter the body through deep tissue or parenteral route. Gas gangrene can be classified as posttraumatic, postoperative, or spontaneous. Posttraumatic gas gangrene accounts for 60% of the cases and most of them involve automobile accidents. With posttraumatic gas gangrene, the patients have sustained serious injury to the skin or soft tissues. The causes of these injuries are crush injuries, compound fractures, gunshot wounds, thermal or electrical burn and frostbite; especially farm or industrial injuries in which the patient's injury is contaminated with soil. Postoperative gas gangrene is usually associated with colon resection, ruptured appendix, bowel perforation, and biliary or other GI surgery. Also, illegal or self-induced abortions are the leading cause of uterine gas gangrene. Spontaneous gas gangrene occurs without external wound or injury. One-third of all gas gangrene cases occur spontaneously. Spontaneous gas gangrene usually occur in patients with under...

... middle of paper ... oxygen increases during compression, the amount of oxygen dissolved directly into plasma increases.


What really interested me about this disease is the fermentation of the carbohydrates in the body. The fermentation is what causes the gas feeling under the skin. Also, how fast this bacteria spreads is also amazing. The incubation period of less than 24 hours is really quick. This bacterium doesn't even give you too many warning signs to stop it before it starts.

Works Cited

Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia. (n.d.) Retrieved April 3, 2005, from

Diabetes. (n.d.) Retrieved April 2, 2005, from

Case, Christine L., Funke, Berdell R., Tortora, Gerard J. (2004). Microbiology: An Introduction (8th ed.). San Francisco: Benjamin Cummings.
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