Botulism Facts

Botulism Facts
Botulism is a disease that paralyzes the muscles, caused by Clostridium botulinum - a type of bacteria that creates a toxin that is harmful and sometimes deadly to humans. There are three types of botulism including foodborne, infant botulism, and wound botulism. The botulinum toxin can be destroyed by proper cooking, but the spore does not die by cooking temperatures and can regrow under the right conditions. Treatments exist for those who become sick with botulism, and can include antitoxin, mechanical ventilation, and even surgery to remove the bacteria if the patient has wound botulism. Although a vaccine has been developed, it is still being tested for side effects and usefulness.
Interesting Botulism Facts:
Botulism develops when the bacterium clostridium botulinum is present and is able to produce the botulinum toxin, usually because of low-oxygen.
Botulism affects nerves and muscles and can lead to paralysis and respiratory failure.
Foodborne botulism occurs when an individual consumes food that has been improperly cooked, stored, prepared, or exposed to the harmful toxins created by clostridium botulinum.
Infant botulism occurs when an infant, usually six months of age or younger, ingests the spores created by clostridium botulinum, which then germinate in the digestive system. The bacteria grown by the spores release toxins in the infant and causes illness, sometimes fatal.
Wound botulism occurs when the spores created by clostridium botulinum are able to get into a wound. Under low oxygen conditions (anaerobic) the spores reproduce and illness results. In some cases the infected area needs to be surgically removed.
Inhalation botulism is not something that would be naturally occurring and would be the result of bioterrorism or an accident, in which the toxins are released into the air through aerosols.
Preventing foodborne botulism cases involves following safe food handling practices. It is also important to know how to prevent it.
To help prevent foodborne botulism food must be cooked to proper temperatures, refrigerated and stored properly before and after cooking. It is also important that preserved food is properly stored in the right acidic conditions to prevent botulism from being able to grow and produce toxins.
In the 1800s botulism was identified as 'sausage poison' because it was commonly associated with sausage. 'Botulus' is Latin for the word 'sausage'.
Infants under the age of one should not be fed honey. Honey is known to carry the bacterium and is a common cause of botulism in children younger than one.
A can of food that has been contaminated by botulism can swell up. Swollen cans should always be thrown out. Double-bagging such cans is recommended before throwing in the trash.
It would take only one pound of botulism toxin to kill the entire population of earth.
Symptoms of botulism in humans include blurred vision, dry mouth, trouble swallowing, and muscle weakness. The muscle weakness tends to start in the shoulder area and move downwards through the body.
If not treated, an individual with botulism may stop breathing as their breathing muscles become paralyzed.
Botulism is usually a rare occurrence. In the United States there are approximately 145 cases each year.
Botulism is not spread by human-to-human contact.

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