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Botulism Blog Surveillance & Analysis on Botulism News & Outbreaks

What is Botulism ?

Botulism is a form of food poisoning caused by eating contaminated food containing a toxin that severely affects the nervous system. It can be very serious, although not contagious. There are two other types, wound botulism and infant botulism. These affect the central nervous system and the muscular system.

Causes of Botulism

Clostridium botulinum, a bacteria found in contaminated or incompletely cooked,
canned foods, is the cause of Botulism. This bacteria produces a powerful poison (toxin) that is absorbed from the digestive tract and spreads throughout the central nervous system. Likely foods to cause botulism include: home-canned vegetables and fruits, fish, meat, undercooked sausage, smoked meats and milk products. With infants under 1 year, raw honey or other uncooked foods may be the cause. The bacteria also may infect a wound and produce the toxin.

Signs and Symptoms of Botulism

Symptoms of Botulism usually appear suddenly 18 to 36 hours after eating contaminated food. They include blurred or double vision, drooping eyelids, dry mouth, slurred speech, swallowing difficulty, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness of the arms and legs. As the condition progresses, paralysis may develop. There is not direct effect on mental abilities and there is no fever associated with Botulism. Symptoms appearing in infants include severe constipation, feeble cry, and the inability to suck.