What is Botulism?

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. Botulinum toxins are the most potent poisons known. These toxins are absorbed primarily in the stomach and upper part of the small intestine.

Clinical Features of Botulism

1. All age groups and both sexes.
2. Groups of people affected e.g. a family.
3. Symptoms appear 12 to 36 hours after ingestion of the toxin.
4. Double vision, blurred vision and swallowing difficulty, speech abnormalities, and dry
5. Symmetric paralysis of the extremities appears and progresses rapidly in an ascending
or descending way.
6. Constipation, urinary retention, reduced salivation and watering of eyes.
7. Nausea and vomiting.
8. Patient is alert, afebrile, oriented. Eye signs commence with drooping of the eyelids.

Management of Botulism

1. It is a medical emergency. Evacuate to a hospital.
2. Assisted ventilation may be required.

Prevention of Botulism

1. All tinned/canned products must be inspected on the outside before opening.
2. Check dates of manufacture and expiry.
3. Check for any bulging at the ends.
4. Beware of rusted tins.

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