What is Botulism?

Botulism is a food poisoning caused by a bacterium (botulinum) growing on improperly sterilized canned meats and other preserved foods.

There are four types of Botulism:

  • Food-Borne Botulism
  • Wound Botulism
  • Infant Botulism
  • Adult Intestinal Colonization Botulism

How does the illness spread and who is infected?

Food-borne botulism is spread by consuming food contaminated with the botulism toxin or spores.

Wound botulism occurs when the spores of Clostridum botulinum get into an open wound and are able to reproduce.

Infant botulism occurs when infants ingest Clostridum botulinum spores.

Adult intestinal colonization botulism is similar to infant botulism but occurs in older children and adults with bowel abnormalities

Most Common Symptoms

Common symptoms include double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, and muscle weakness.

Infants with botulism appear lethargic, feed poorly, are constipated, and have a weak cry and poor muscle tone.

Number of People Infected

In the United States, an average of 145 cases are reported each year.

Prevention/Treatment Measures

Avoid feeding honey to infants less than 12 months of age.

  • Follow strict hygienic steps when canning foods at home.
  • Refrigerate oils containing garlic or herbs.

    Keep baked potatoes wrapped in aluminum foil either hot until served or refrigerated.

    Consider boiling home-canned food before eating it to kill any bacteria lurking in the food.

    Other Interesting Facts!

    Botulism is one of the most dangerous diseases that can be contracted humans.

    If not treated early, botulism can lead to paralysis, breathing difficulties and death.

    Botulism is not spread from one person to another.