Clostridium Ramosum: Symptoms & Treatment

Instructor: Brekke Peterson Munks
Did you know that some microbes can cause disease, while others normally do not unless you are very young or have a poor immune system? In this lesson, you will learn about Clostridium ramosum, a bacterium that typically does not cause disease, but may cause an infection.

Definition

Have you ever heard of Clostridium ramosum? If not, you are just like most normal people. Clostridium ramosum is a microbe, or bacterium, that is commonly found in the human gut, but may be found in other parts of the body. It is a bacterium of the class Colostridia. C. ramosum doesn't need oxygen to live, and it has a bacillus shape, meaning it is a rod-shaped bacterium. C. ramosum is not considered a pathogen, or a causative agent of disease, unless you are very young or your immune system is compromised. Typically, this bacteria causes ear infections in young children or bacteremia in adults.

Bacteria are classified by their cellular structure. The first step to understanding bacteria is to determine their structure. This is done by determining if the bacteria is either Gram-positive or Gram-negative. If a bacterium is Gram-positive, it has a thick peptidoglycan layer in its cell walls. Gram-negative bacteria, on the other hand, have a thin peptidoglycan layer that is in the middle of their cell membrane, which is surrounded by a cytoplasmic cell membrane and a bacterial membrane.

All Clostridium bacteria are spore-formers; this means they have three phases of growth in their life-cycle: initial growth, vigorous growth and spore-forming growth. During initial growth the bacteria is dividing and trying to increase in number. Vigorous growth is just as it sounds, the bacteria is growing exponentially and starts to put energy into either causing disease or degrading their environment. The last stage of growth is known as spore-forming. This is when the bacteria create an organelle called an endospore; this is an organelle with a thicker cell wall, allowing the bacteria to go dormant until it finds a new host. These endospores can also stay within the same original host and travel through the bloodstream looking for a new place to infect.

Clostridium ramosum infection: Symptoms & Treatment

Human diseases caused by C. ramosum result from the growth of this anaerobic bacteria in the inner ear in young children. Most of us can remember having ear aches or ear infections as children that might have kept us home from school. Think back, how did you feel? You probably had a slight loss of hearing, a fever, a headache and/or a sore ear.

In some cases, the ear will be cultured to assess infection, but typically antibiotics will be prescribed to clear the infection. Normal prescriptions include penicillin, clindamycin or a combination of these drugs. Luckily, C. ramosum is not resistant to antibiotics; this means that the bacterium is affected by antibiotics instead of not being hindered by them. This class of bacteria is also killed through the use of household disinfectants.

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