Postpartum Clostridium sordellii infection associated with fatal toxic shock syndrome

Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2000 Dec;79(12):1134-5.


Clostridium bacteria are anaerobic Gram positive spore-form-ing bacilli, known to cause distinct clinical syndromes such as botulism, tetanus, pseudomembranous colitis and myonecrosis. The natural habitats of Clostridium species are soil, water and the gastrointestinal tract of animals and humans. In 5-10% of all women, Clostridium species are also found to be normal inhabitants in the microbial flora of the female genital tract. In case of a non-sexually transmitted genital tract infection, Clostridium species are isolated in 4-20%, and clostridium welchii seems to be the most common isolate. Clostridium sordellii is rarely encountered in clinical specimens (1% of Clostridium species), but it has been described as a human pathogen with fatal potential. Two toxins, a lethal and a hemorrhagic (that antigenically and pathophysiologically appear similar to Clostridium difficile toxins B and A, respectively) are responsible for this potential. Reviewing the obstetric literature, only six cases of postpartum endometritis caused by C. sordellii, are described - all being fatal. In addition, one lethal case of spontaneous endometritis resulting from C. sordellii is reported. The clinical aspects of these cases include: - sudden onset with influenza-like symptoms in previously healthy women - progressive refractory hypotension - local and spreading tissue edema - absence of fever Laboratory findings include: - marked leukocytosis - elevated hematocrit. This paper reports the seventh fatal postpartum C. sorlellii associated toxic shock syndrome - the first recognized in Scandinavia.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clostridium Infections / pathology*
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Female
  • Heart Arrest
  • Humans
  • Hypotension
  • Postpartum Period*
  • Pregnancy
  • Shock, Septic / microbiology*
  • Shock, Septic / pathology
  • Uterine Diseases / microbiology*