Clostridium sordellii is found in the environment and occasionally in animal (including human) intestines and may cause myonecrosis and large outbreaks of enterotoxemia. A few cases of fatal clostridial infection in bears (Ursus spp.) have been described worldwide but none attributed to C. sordellii. We describe a fatal case of septicemia caused by C. sordellii in an illegally trapped brown bear (Ursus arctos). At necropsy, acute gangrenous myositis was the primary lesion. Serohemorrhagic edema was observed in the abdominal cavity, thorax, pericardium, and skeletal muscle, mostly affecting femoral, humeral, and scapular muscles. Hemorrhage was observed in the heart, skeletal muscles, stomach, and intestine. Liver, spleen, and kidney appeared with loss of consistency, hemorrhages, and edema. Microscopically, primary lesions were in skeletal muscle, stomach, and small intestine, with gram-positive, clostridial-like bacilli. Biochemical and molecular tests identified C. sordellii in cultures from liver, muscle, and intestine. Sequences showed a homology of >99% with the 16S rRNA gene sequence of C. sordellii. The severity of effects of the C. sordellii infection reveal the importance of this pathogen as a wildlife health risk with conservation concerns, as well as the need to consider possible infection with this pathogen in management actions involving immobilization, stress, or severe muscular activity of wild brown bears.
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Vol. 49 • No. 4