To obtain insight into the occurrence and prevalence of Clostridium perfringens and its major toxins in polar bears (Ursus maritimus), we took fecal samples for bacteriologic analysis from live-captured bears in the Svalbard Archipelago, Norway, in 2001. Clostridium perfringens was isolated from 40 of 92 samples (44%). Thirty strains were further characterized by determining toxin type and were classified to be type A, while one was also positive for the gene encoding β2-toxin. Despite the fact that C. perfringens type A has been associated with fatal diseases in several animal species as well as in humans, our data indicate that C. perfringens type A is an normal inhabitant of the gastrointestinal tract of polar bears.
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Vol. 44 • No. 1