D. PHILLIPS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY D. PHILLIPS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Clostridium difficile. Coloured Scanning Electron Micrograph (SEM) of C. difficile bacteria. The rod-shaped cells of this anaerobic, gram-positive species have a bumpy, irregular surface. C. difficile normally exists in small numbers in the human gut. It can proliferate, producing a toxin that irritates the colon and causes diarrhoea, when antibiotic treatment kills other bacteria inhabiting the intestines. In severe cases this leads to pseudomembranous colitis (PMC), where mucus and dead cells build up in plaques on the walls of the colon. PMC can be treated with an antibiotic but relapses are common because the bacteria can form highly resistant spores. Magnification unknown.
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