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Botulism is an acute form of food poisoning that results from ingestion of a toxin produced by a bacteria called Clostridium botulinum. This infection is spread due to contaminated canned foods. Botulinus toxins are the most potent poisons known. These toxins are absorbed primarily in the stomach and upper part of the small intestine. In the United States an average of 110 cases of botulism are reported each year. Of these, approximately 25% are foodborne, 72% are infant botulism, and 3% are wound botulism. Outbreaks of foodborne botulism involving two or more persons occur during most years and usually are caused by eating contaminated home-canned foods. Babies may take these bacteria, often in spore form, into their systems after they eat contaminated foods or come in contact with soil containing the bacteria's spores.

Botulism is a rare, but very serious condition. It's caused by toxin produced by bacteria called Clostridium botulinum. The toxins are produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Person to person transmission of botulism does not occur. The condition can be frightening because it can cause muscle weakness and breathing problems. But it is very rare: Fewer than 100 cases of infant botulism occur each year in the United States, and most babies who do get botulism recover fully. If these bacteria get into a cut, they can cause a dangerous infection that produces the toxin. The spores are heat-resistant. Under anaerobic conditions, botulinum spores can germinate, and the bacterium grow and produce the toxin. Ingestion of the toxin present in improperly prepared food is dangerous and may be fatal. Botulism is mainly a foodborne intoxication but it can also be transmitted through wound infections or intestinal infection in infants. People have also become infected after injecting illegal drugs.

Human botulism is a serious but relatively rare disease. Botulism (from Latin botulus , "sausage") is a rare but serious paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin , botulin , that is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum . (A toxin is a poison that is released by some bacteria and viruses). There are three types of botulism: food, wound and infant botulism. But very young babies haven't developed the ability to handle the bacteria yet. So once an infant ingests them, the bacteria can produce a toxin. Two other types of botulism tend to affect older children and adults: wound botulism occurs when the bacteria infect a wound and produce the toxin inside of it; food-borne botulism is usually caused by eating home-canned foods that contain the toxin. There are three naturally occurring forms of botulism food-borne botulism, intestinal botulism (which is due to proliferation of the organism in the gut) and wound botulism. Types C, D and E cause illness in mammals, birds and fish. The sporulated form of the bacterium is commonly found in soils, aquatic sediments and fish. number of cases of foodborne and infant botulism has changed little in recent years, but wound botulism has increased because of the use of black tar heroin , especially in California

Causes of Botulism

The common Causes of Botulism :

  • Infant botulism is a special type in which living bacteria or its spores are eaten and grow within the infant's gastrointestinal tract.
  • The most common cause of infant botulism is eating honey or corn syrup.
  • The causes of food-borne botulism may be home-canned foods that are low in acid, like green beans, corn and beets.
  • Respiratory failure caused by weakness in the muscles that control breathing can cause death in up to 7% of food-related illness.
  • The foods most commonly contaminated are home-canned vegetables, cured pork and ham, smoked or raw fish, and honey or corn syrup.
  • A wound becomes infected with the bacteria (rare in the US). The toxin then travels to other parts of the body through the bloodstream.
  • If an infant swallows C botulinum spores, they will grow in the baby's body and produce the toxin. Unlike adults and older children, infants become sick from toxin produced by bacteria growing in their own intestines.

Symptoms of Botulism

Some are common Symptoms of Botulism :

  • Difficulty swallowing and speaking
  • Progressive weakness with paralysis
  • No fever, usually
  • Double vision
  • Sore throat
  • Not eating or sucking
  • Little energy
  • Trouble breathing
  • Temporary lack of breathing 
  • Nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Dry mouth

Treatment of Botulism

Here is the list of the methods for treating Botulism :

  • Enemas and cathartics or whole-bowel irrigation may be used (if no ileus is present) to purge the gut of toxin. If ingestion occurred within the past few hours, emetics or gastric lavage may aid in the removal of toxin.
  • The goal of treatment is to establish a clear airway, aid breathing, give botulinus anti-toxin, and provide supportive therapy.
  • If breathing difficulty develops, intubation (a tube inserted through the nose or mouth into the trachea to provide an airway for oxygen) and mechanical ventilation are given.
  • Drugs that increase the amount of acetylcholine, such as pyridostigmine may be given.
  • Occurrences of the disease are reported to state health authorities or the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) by health care providers so that contaminated food can be removed from stores
  • Because the toxin can affect the breathing muscles, for example, doctors may put the infant on a ventilator.
  • Patients suffering from wound botulism should receive equine antibiotics such as penicillin. If you're having trouble breathing, you will probably need to use a ventilator.
  • Monitor spirometry, pulse oximetry, and arterial blood gas measurements, with particular attention placed on serial measurements of maximal static inspiratory pressure and respiratory vital capacity to help in predicting respiratory failure.