Botulism is a severe illness .It is a rare and potentially fatal illness caused by a toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. The disease begins with weakness, blurred vision, feeling tired, and trouble speaking. This may then be followed by weakness of the arms, chest muscles, and legs. Vomiting, swelling of the abdomen, and diarrhea may also occur. The disease does not usually affect consciousness or cause a fever.
There are three main forms of botulism:
1.Food-borne botulism, which is the original form of the disease that was first documented by researchers. Every year, there are less than 1,000 cases of food-borne botulism in the entire world.
2.Infant botulism, which typically only affects children ages 7 days to 11 months. Since the first case of infant botulism was discovered in the 1970s, there have been just over 1,000 cases in the United States total.
3.Wound botulism, which is only reported one to three times per year in the United States.
Botulism can be spread in several different ways. The bacterial spores which cause it are common in both soil and water. They produce the botulinum toxin when exposed to low oxygen levels and certain temperatures. Food borne botulism happens when food containing the toxin is eaten. Infant botulism happens when the bacteria develops in the intestines and releases the toxin. This typically only occurs in children less than six months old, as protective mechanisms develop after that time. Wound botulism is found most often among those who inject street drugs. In this situation, spores enter a wound, and in the absence of oxygen, release the toxin. It is not passed directly between people. The diagnosis is confirmed by finding the toxin or bacteria in the person in question.
Symptoms of botulism can appear from six hours to 10 days after the initial infection. On average, symptoms of infant and food borne botulism appear between 12 and 36 hours after eating contaminated food.
Early signs of infant botulism include:
*Loss of head control and floppy movements due to muscle weakness
Signs of foodborne or wound botulism include:
*Difficulty swallowing or speaking
*Facial weakness on both sides of the face
*Nausea, vomiting, and abdominal cramps (only in foodborne botulism)
The CDC reports that 65 percent of botulism cases occur in infants or children younger than 1 year of age. Infant botulism is typically the result of exposure to contaminated soil, or by eating foods that contain botulism spores. Honey and corn syrup are two examples of foods that can have contamination. These spores can grow inside the intestinal tract of infants, releasing the botulism toxin. Older children and adults have natural defenses that prevent the bacteria from growing.
According to the CDC, around 15 percent of botulism cases are foodborne. These can be home-canned foods or commercially canned products that didn’t undergo proper processing. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that botulism toxin has been found in:
*Preserved vegetables with low acid content, such as beets, spinach, mushrooms, and green beans
*Canned tuna fish
*Fermented, smoked, and salted fish
*Meat products, such as ham and sausage
Wound botulism makes up 20 percent of all botulism cases, and is due to botulism spores entering an open wound, according to the CDC. The rate of occurrence for this type of botulism has risen in recent years due to drug use, as the spores are commonly present in heroin and cocaine.
Botulism isn’t passed from person to person. A person must consume the spores or toxin through food, or the toxin must enter a wound, to cause the symptoms of botulism poisoning.
If you suspect that you or someone you know has botulism, get medical help immediately. Early diagnosis and treatment is crucial for survival.
To diagnose botulism, a doctor will complete a physical exam, noting any signs or symptoms of botulism poisoning. He or she will ask about foods eaten within the past several days as possible sources of the toxin, and if anyone else ate the same food. He or she will also ask about any wounds.
To diagnose botulism, your doctor will review your symptoms with you. However, other diseases and medical situations (such as a droopy face caused by a stroke) may also present similar symptoms. To verify that you’re being affected by the botulinum toxin, your doctor may do:
a) Brain scan
b) Extract fluid from your spine for analysis. Conduct tests that review how your nerves and muscles are functioning
In infants, a doctor will also check for physical symptoms, and will ask about any foods that the infant ate, such as honey or corn syrup.
Your doctor may also take blood or stool samples to analyze for the presence of toxins. However, results for these tests may take days, so most doctors rely on a clinical observation of symptoms to make a diagnosis.
Some symptoms of botulism can mimic those of other diseases and conditions. Your doctor may order additional tests to rule out other causes. These tests may include:
*Electromyography (EMG) to evaluate muscle response
*Imaging scans to detect any internal damage to the head or brain
*Spinal fluid test to determine if infection or injury to the brain or spinal cord is causing symptoms
For foodborne and wound botulism, a doctor administers an antitoxin as soon as possible after diagnosis. In infants, a treatment known as botulism immune globulin blocks the actions of neurotoxins circulating in the blood.
Severe cases of botulism may require the use of a ventilator to help support breathing. Recovery may take weeks or months. Long-term therapy and rehabilitation may also be necessary in severe cases. There’s a vaccine for botulism, but it’s not common, as its effectiveness hasn’t been fully tested and there are side effects.
If you suspect a botulism case, it’s imperative that you rush immediately to your doctor for medical treatment. There is no home treatment for this rare but very serious and deadly illness.
Conventional treatment requires the use of an antitoxin drug. When you’re being poisoned by botulinum, the toxin is attacking your body’s nerves and muscles. The antitoxin prevents this from happening and stops the ongoing damage caused by botulinum.
However, the antitoxin doesn’t reverse any current damage to your body caused by botulinum. It simply stops the toxin from continuing to affect you. Thus, people with botulism often spend weeks or even months in the hospital under close medical supervision as they recover and heal.
Depending on how long your body was poisoned, you may need:
*Physical therapy as the paralysis slowly improves.
*Breathing assistance, such as being hooked up to a ventilator machine, if chest congestion paralysis sets in in the muscles that you need to breathe.
*Assistance eating if your mouth, tongue and/or throat are affected
Prevention is primarily by proper food preparation. The toxin, though not the organism, is destroyed by heating it to more than 85 °C (185 °F) for longer than 5 minutes. Honey can contain the organism, and for this reason, honey should not be fed to children under 12 months. Treatment is with an antitoxin. In those who lose their ability to breathe on their own, mechanical ventilation may be necessary for months. Antibiotics may be used for wound botulism. Death occurs in 5 to 10% of people. Botulism also affects many other animals. The word is from Latin, botulus, meaning sausage. Early descriptions of botulism date from at least as far back as 1793 in Germany.
While there are no home treatments for botulism, there are things you can do at home to help prevent the disease:
*Use the latest canning research if you do homemade canning, including cleaning your food, using a steam pressure canner at the right temperature setting, and using a boiling water bath.
*Sanitize canned food before eating it by boiling it for at least 10 minutes, depending on your home’s elevation.
*Practice good food hygiene by keeping your kitchen clean and refrigerating food promptly.
*Maintain strong gut health.
*Store food in non-airtight containers.
Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.