What is Botulism?

Botulism is a serious and potentially fatal disease. It is a rare paralytic illness that is caused by the nerve toxins of certain bacteria which are found in soil and untreated water. People catch botulism from ingesting improperly processed foods in which the bacteria of the spores are present and produce toxins. It cannot be passed from human to human.

There are a few different types of bacteria can cause botulism. Clostridium botulinum bacteria usually cause the serious, life-threatening disease, but C. butyricum and C. baratii also sometimes cause botulism. According to the CDC, there are about 145 reported cases of botulism in the United States each year. The most common type of botulism is infant botulism, which accounts for about 65 percent of cases. Then there is foodborne and wound botulism.

5 types of botulism:

·       Foodborne botulism: caused by consuming foods contaminated with the botulinum toxin (i.e. home-canned vegetables, cured pork, smoked or raw fish, honey, corn syrup)

·       Wound botulism: caused by C. botulinum which enters an open wound and releases toxins

·       Infant botulism: occurs when an infant consumes bacterial spores

·       Adult toxemia botulism: develops from consuming bacterial spores

·       Latrogenic botulism: occurs when a person accidentally overdoses on the botulinum toxin (i.e. Botox injections)

Symptoms of botulism

·       Widespread muscle paralysis

·       Blurred and double vision

·       Drooping eyelids

·       Slurred speech and difficulty swallowing

·       Dry mouth

·       Muscle weakness

·       Abdominal cramps

·       Nausea and vomiting

The symptoms usually take about 18 to 36 hours after consuming contaminated food to appear. However, symptoms may also appear anytime between 6 hours and 10 days after ingestion. It botulism goes left untreated, it can cause paralysis of the arms, legs, trunk, and respiratory muscles. This can in turn result in death due to being unable to breath.