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Clostridium perfringens and its arsenal of toxins
  1. Christian M. Leutenegger, DrVetMed, PhD, FVH
  1. IDEXX Laboratories, Molecular Diagnostics, 2825 KOVR Drive, West Sacramento, California 95605, USA, e-mail:

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TOXINS produced by strains of Clostridium perfringens have a long history of research. The most studied toxin to date, the α toxin of type A C perfringens, achieved notoriety because of its role in gas gangrene in the trenches of the First World War. But it didn't stop there; many additional toxins have been characterised since and it seems that the arsenal of toxins has reached new heights with recent discoveries.

A short communication by Mehdizadeh Gohari and others (2016), which is summarised on p 216 in this week's Veterinary Record, highlights the identification of the novel netF-positive type A C perfringens in foals with enteritis and enterocolitis in Kentucky. The NetF toxin is one of a series of recently discovered toxins belonging to the pore-forming leukocidin/haemolysin superfamily. Additionally, NetF protein was found in the autogenous bacterin-toxoid vaccine utilising a Kentucky C perfringens type A strain that also carries genes for the α toxin (CPA), β-2 toxin (CPB2) and enterotoxin (CPE). This bacterin-toxoid vaccine was specifically developed for the local induction of lactogenic immunity in prepartum mares on Kentucky breeding farms with histories of foal diarrhoea (Timoney and others 2005).

Foal necrotising enterocolitis has long …

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