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Botulism

Abstract

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NORD is very grateful to Agam Rao, MD, Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases, Centers for Disease Control, for assistance in the preparation of this report

Synonyms of Botulism

  • No synonyms found.

Disorder Subdivisions

  • adult intestinal colonization ( intestinal toxemia) botulismiatrogenic
  • foodborne botulism
  • infant botulism
  • wound botulism

General Discussion

Botulism is a rare but serious paralytic disease caused by a bacterial toxin usually produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. There are four generally recognized naturally-occurring types; foodborne, wound, infant, and, rarely, adult intestinal colonization. Iatrogenic and inhalational botulism may also occur. Foodborne botulism is caused by eating foods that contain botulinum toxin. Wound botulism occurs when C. botulinum spores germinate and produce toxin in a contaminated wound or abscess. The most common form of botulism in the United States, infant botulism, is caused when ingested C. botulinum spores colonize and subsequently produce toxin in the intestines of affected infants. In rare instances, C. botulinum intestinal colonization and toxin production have also occurred among adults with anatomical or functional bowel abnormalities. Additionally, botulism has infrequently occurred after intramuscular injection of botulinum toxin for treatment of certain dystonias and other disorders. Finally, inhalational botulism, though not naturally-occurring, was reported among three German laboratory workers who inadvertently inhaled aerosolized toxin, and could potentially occur after a deliberate aerosolization of toxin in a bioterrorism event.

Any case of foodborne or unexplained botulism is considered to be a public health emergency because of the potential for toxin-containing foods to injure others who eat them and because of the potential misuse of botulinum toxin as a biological weapon. State and local public health officials by law must be informed immediately whenever botulism is suspected in a human patient.

Botulism Resources

Organizations:

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