Botulism is a
muscle-paralyzing disease caused by a toxin made by a bacterium called
There are three main
kinds of botulism:
botulism occurs when a person ingests pre-formed toxin that leads
to illness within a few hours to days. Foodborne botulism is a
public health emergency because the contaminated food may still be
available to other persons besides the patient.
botulism occurs in a small number of susceptible infants each year
who harbor C. botulinum in their intestinal tract
botulism occurs when wounds are infected with C. botulinum
that secretes the toxin.
foodborne botulism, symptoms begin within 6 hours to 2 weeks (most
commonly between 12 and 36 hours) after eating toxin-containing food.
Symptoms of botulism include double vision, blurred vision, drooping
eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, muscle
weakness that always descends through the body: first shoulders are
affected, then upper arms, lower arms, thighs, calves, etc. Paralysis
of breathing muscles can cause a person to stop breathing and die,
unless assistance with breathing (mechanical ventilation) is provided.
is not spread from one person to another. Foodborne botulism can occur
in all age groups
supply of antitoxin against botulism is maintained by CDC.
The antitoxin is effective in reducing the severity of symptoms
if administered early in the course of the disease. Most patients
eventually recover after weeks to months of supportive care.