AIMS: To determine the incidence of sporadic and apparently non-food related diarrhoea associated with Clostridium perfringens enterotoxin. METHODS: Enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and reversed phase latex agglutination (RPLA) were used to detect C perfringens enterotoxin in faecal specimens from 818 sporadic cases of diarrhoea. RESULTS: C perfringens enterotoxin was identified as a cause of sporadic diarrhoea in 56 of 818 (6.8%) cases. Diarrhoea was prolonged (three days or more) in most cases. Ages ranged from 3 months to 89 years, although most patients were over 60 years of age. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that C perfringens may be a cause of sporadic cases of diarrhoea when causes such as food consumption or cross-infection are absent, particularly in the elderly.
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