Botulism

Clostridium Botulinum

What is it?

Botulism is an uncommon but often fatal disease. it is a paralyzing disease caused by the toxin Clostridium Botulinum. The toxin produces a presynaptic blockade to the release of acetylcholine which then produces skeletal muscle paralysis. This toxin was discovered about 100 years ago and now has five clinical forms in which it appears. These forms are classic or food-borne botulism (main form), wound botulism, infant botulism, hidden botulism, and inadvertent botulism. Botulism can infect anyone.


What to Know & What to Look Out For

In the past decade the CDC has received reports of 181 cases in 79 outbreaks, an average of 18 cases and 8 outbreaks per year. There are several signs and symptoms to look out for to diagnose botulism. Muscles supplied by the cranial nerves will be affected first. Descending symmetrical motor paralysis will occur. Vision may be impaired and hearing might be distorted but other than that there will be no more sensory problems. There is no fever in the beginning of the disease but it can develop later on with complications such as pneumonia. Tachycardia may occur if hypotension develops which is another possible complication of the disease. The diagnosis of botulism can be confirmed by tests that identify the toxin in patients and in food specimens.
After the patient is paralyzed death will soon occur as the respiratory also becomes paralyzed.