Foodborne Botulism Symptoms

Foodborne Botulism Symptoms include:

- Difficulty swallowing or speaking
- Facial weakness on both sides of the face
- Blurred vision
- Drooping eyelids
- Trouble breathing
- Nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps (only in food-borne botulism)
- Paralysis

What is Botulism?

It is a rare but serious paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin that is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. It can be fatal and are considered medical emergencies.

Clostridium botulinum is the name of a group of bacteria commonly found in soil. It is rod-shaped organisms grow best in low oxygen conditions. The bacteria form spores which allow them to survive in a dormant state until exposed to conditions that can support their growth.

There are three main kinds of botulism

1. Foodborne botulism is caused by eating foods that contain the botulism toxin. It can be especially dangerous because many people can be poisoned by eating a contaminated food. Foodborne botulism symptoms generally begin 18 to 36 hours after eating a contaminated food, but they can occur as early as 6 hours or as late as 10 days. Physicians may try to remove contaminated food still in the gut by inducing vomiting or by using enemas.

2. Wound botulism is caused by toxin produced from a wound infected with Clostridium botulinum. Wounds should be treated, usually surgically, to remove the source of the toxin-producing bacteria.

3. Infant botulism is caused by consuming the spores of the botulinum bacteria, which then grow in the intestines and release toxin. Antitoxin is not routinely given for treatment of infant botulism.

Botulism symptoms can be prevented through:

• Foodborne botulism has often been from home-canned foods with low acid content, such as asparagus, green beans, beets and corn.

• However, outbreaks of botulism from more unusual sources such as chopped garlic in oil, chile peppers, tomatoes, improperly handled baked potatoes wrapped in aluminum foil, and home-canned or fermented fish.

• Persons who do home canning should follow strict hygienic procedures to reduce contamination of foods.

• Oils infused with garlic or herbs should be refrigerated.

• Potatoes which have been baked while wrapped in aluminum foil should be kept hot until served or refrigerated.

• Because the botulism toxin is destroyed by high temperatures, persons who eat home-canned foods should consider boiling the food for 10 minutes before eating it to ensure safety.

• Because honey can contain spores of Clostridium botulinum and this has been a source of infection for infants, children less than 12 months old should not be fed honey.

• Honey is safe for persons 1 year of age and older.

• Wound botulism can be prevented by promptly seeking medical care for infected wounds and by not using injectable street drugs.

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