C. perfringens epsilon toxin is a potential biothreat agent; no reported cases of human disease have occurred. The toxin is produced by C. perfringens as a 311-amino-acid protoxin which is cleaved into a 14-amino-acid peptide which is a potent necrotizing toxin. The toxin causes a rapidly fatal toxemia in herbivores when their gastrointestinal tracts are colonized by C. perfringens, leading to in situ toxin production.143 The toxin causes pulmonary edema, renal failure, and cardiovascular collapse. The lethal dose for rodents is 100ng/kg, and it has been estimated that a lethal human dose would be 7 micrograms parenterally.144 Due to the toxin's potency and lethality, it has been classified as a Category B agent. It is thought that biothreat use would be via the aerosol/inhalational route, leading to pulmonary edema followed by renal failure and cardiovascular collapse.
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