1) C. botulinum 

  • Cramps

  • Vomiting

  • Breathing problems

  • Difficulty swallowing

  • Double vision

  • Weakness or paralysis

2) C. tetani

  • Jaw cramping.

  • Sudden, involuntary muscle tightening (muscle spasms) – often in the stomach.

  • Painful muscle stiffness all over the body.

  • Trouble swallowing.

  • Jerking or staring (seizures)

  • Headache.

  • Fever and sweating.

  • Changes in blood pressure and fast heart rate

3) C. perfringens

  • Blisters

  • Tachycardia

  • Swelling

  • Jaundice

1) Fever

2) Weight Loss

3) Lumps on neck and face

4) Draining sores on the skin

5) Coughing 

6) Chest pain

7) Excess sinus drainage

Anaerobes can be recovered from a variety of head and neck and upper respiratory tract infections and predominate more in their chronic forms. These include chronic otitis media, sinusitis and mastoiditis, tonsillar, peritonsillar and retropharyngeal abscesses, deep neck space infections, parotitis, sialadenitis, thyroiditis, odontogenic infections, and postsurgical and nonsurgical head and neck wounds and abscesses.

Examples of Anaerobic Bacteria

1. Escherichia   coli

E. coli is a facultative aerobes. It is a common type of bacterium and can be found in the intestinal tract of birds, humans and other mammals. It can cause diarrhea, respiratory problems and urinary tract infections. Probably the most notorious types of E.coli are those that produce Shiga toxin, in particular the strain known as E. coli 0157: H7. The shiga toxin it produces is one of the most potent poisons we know about. In the 1980s an outbreak of E. coli 0157: H7 was traced to contaminated hamburgers. Since then, many cases of found poisoning by E.coli are believed to have come from undercooked beef.

1. Adult kidney failure

2. Fever

3. Bloody urine

4. Loss of appetite or

5. Vomit (uncommon)

6. Fatigue

2. Staphylococcus

A facultative anaerobe which reside on human skin or mucous membranes. Under the microscope they look round (cocci) in shape. There are a number of strains that can cause infections, either by invading cells or releasing a toxin. One type that has been causing concern is Staphylococcus aureus, especially methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) which is resistant to a wide array of antibiotics and can cause a number of infections.


1) Skin infections 

  • Boils - The most common type of staph infection is the boil, a pocket of pus that develops in a hair follicle or oil gland.The skin over the infected area usually becomes red and swollen.

  • Impetigo - This contagious, often painful rash can be caused by staph bacteria. Impetigo usually features large blisters that may ooze fluid and develop a honey-colored crust.

  • Cellulitis - An infection of the deeper layers of skin — causes skin redness and swelling on the surface of your skin. Sores (ulcers) or areas of oozing discharge may develop, too.

  • Staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome - Toxins produced as a result of a staph infection may lead to staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome. Affecting mostly babies and children, this condition features fever, a rash and sometimes blisters. When the blisters break, the top layer of skin comes off — leaving a red, raw surface that looks like a burn.

2) Food poisoning

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Low blood pressure

  • Diarrhea

  • Dehydration

3) Bacteremia

  • Also known as blood poisoning, bacteremia occurs when staph bacteria enter a person's bloodstream. A fever and low blood pressure are signs of bacteremia. The bacteria can travel to locations deep within your body, to produce infections affecting the Internal organs, such as your brain, heart or lungs, bones and muscles, surgically implanted devices, such as artificial joints or cardiac pacemakers.

4) Toxic shock syndrome

  • This life-threatening condition results from toxins produced by some strains of staph bacteria and has been linked to certain types of tampons, skin wounds and surgery. It usually develops suddenly with:

  • A high fever

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • A rash on your palms and soles that resembles sunburn

  • Muscle aches

  • Abdominal pain

5) Septic arthritis

  • The bacteria often target the knees, shoulders, hips, and fingers or toes. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Joint swelling

  • Severe pain in the affected joint

3.Clostridium   Genus

Obligate anaerobes - under the microscope they appear rod-shaped.

Examples include

1) C. botulinum which produces the world's deadliest toxin- botulinum. The bacterium is commonly found in improperly handled meats. Botulinum in small quantities is used in medication to treat muscle spasms, and in cosmetics to lessen the appearance of wrinkles.

2) C. tetani which causes tetanus.

3) C. perfringens which is found in decaying vegetation and in the human intestinal tract. Infections with the bacterium can cause tissue necrosis and gas gangrene.


Some species are beneficial to humans as they crowd out potential pathogens. They form a considerable part of the normal human flora. As such many strains are opportunistic human pathogens, and can cause infections in several parts of the body including the peritoneal cavity and the female urogenital tract.

1. Fever

2. Abdominal pain

5. Actinomyces

Lumps on neck and face

The Actinomyces species are straight to slightly curved gram-positive bacilli that can range from short rods to long, branching rods.
This anaerobic bacterium is found normally in the oral cavity, upper respiratory tract and, to a lesser extent, the gastrointestinal tract.
They are not a particularly virulent species of bacteria and usually only cause infection when there is some disruption in the surface of the oral cavity or upper respiratory tract (opportunistic infection).

Excess sinus drainage


The Propionibacterium species are pleomorphic gram-positive bacilli that may appear oval, rod-shaped or club-shaped. Some may appear branching or forked also. This is a group of aerotolerant anaerobic bacteria that can grow and multiply in the presence of atmospheric oxygen. These anaerobic bacteria are normally found on the skin and have been associated with an inflammatory process in acne (Propionibacterium acnes). They can also cause endocarditis and bacteremia but are usually considered a contaminant and a non-pathogen.


1. Skin problem (acnes)

2. Painful infections of the muscles after rotator
    cuff surgery

3. Primary biliary cirrhosis, destruction of the
    tissue around and in the bile duct that drains
    the liver, mimicking gallbladder disease

4. Fevers and chills after blood transfusions

5. Triggering rheumatoid arthritis, in both children
    and in the elderly

6. Severe joint pain.

7. Gum disease and even

8. Bad breath

Friends or  Foe?

It is clear that our planet is well-populated with diverse anaerobic organisms. Some are pathogenic, causing severe infections such as MRSA, botulism, and tetanus. Others are beneficial, adding beauty to hot springs, flavoring cheeses, and shaping the communities of the ocean. For others, like E. coli, their status depends on their location: while E. coli is a necessary, helpful resident of the human gut, it can become pathogenic if ingested orally or some other way. In summary, anaerobes are important residents of Earth which brilliantly fulfill their ecological niches.

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