Sciensano is the National Reference Center (NRC) for C. botulinum and C. perfringens. We are also recognized as the National Reference Laboratory (NRL) for tetanus.
Clostridia are ubiquitous bacteria (i.e. present everywhere in the environment), some species of which can affect humans and animals through the production of powerful toxins. Some of them are responsible for botulism and tetanus. The toxins responsible for these diseases are neurotoxins, meaning that they act on the nervous system. Aside from their toxicity, they can also be used as therapeutic agents.
What diseases are associated with clostridial neurotoxins?
Botulism and tetanus are neurological disorders, potentially fatal, due respectively to the botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, C. baratii and C. butyricum, and to the tetanus neurotoxin (TeNT) produced by C. tetani.
C. perfringens produces multiple toxins, including enterotoxin, and this bacterium is responsible for, among other things, foodborne illnesses in humans and enteritis in some animal species.