Clostridium sordellii infection: epidemiology, clinical findings, and current perspectives on diagnosis and treatment

Clin Infect Dis. 2006 Dec 1;43(11):1436-46. doi: 10.1086/508866. Epub 2006 Oct 30.


Clostridium sordellii infections pose difficult clinical challenges and are usually fatal. Most commonly, these infections occur after trauma, childbirth, and routine gynecological procedures, but they have recently been associated with medically induced abortions and injection drug use. We report 2 fatal cases, one of which was associated with minor trauma, and the other of which was associated with normal childbirth, and we summarize the clinical features of 43 additional cases of reported C. sordellii infection. Of these 45 cases, 8 (18%) were associated with normal childbirth, 5 (11%) were associated with medically induced abortion, and 2 (0.4%) were associated with spontaneous abortion. The case-fatality rate was 100% in these groups. Ten (22%) of the C. sordellii infections occurred in injection drug users, and 50% of these patients died. Other cases of C. sordellii infection (in 19 patients [43%]) occurred after trauma or surgery, mostly in healthy persons, and 53% these patients died. Overall, the mortality rate was 69% (31 of 45 patients). Eighty-five percent of all patients with fatal cases died within 2-6 days of initial infection, and nearly 80% of fatal cases developed leukemoid reactions. Rapid diagnostic tests and improved treatments are needed to reduced the morbidity and mortality associated with this devastating infection.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child, Preschool
  • Clostridium Infections / epidemiology*
  • Clostridium Infections / microbiology*
  • Clostridium sordellii*
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy