Botulism-Information on Botulism
Botulism is a rare but serious paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin that is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. There are three main kinds of botulism. Foodborne botulism is caused by eating foods that contain the botulism toxin.Botulism is a rare but serious paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin that is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. There are three main kinds of botulism. Foodborne botulism is caused by eating foods that contain the botulism toxin. Wound botulism is caused by toxin produced from a wound infected with Clostridium botulinum. Infant botulism is caused by consuming the spores of the botulinum bacteria, which then grow in the intestines and release toxin. All forms of botulism can be fatal and are considered medical emergencies.
Investigations of Clostridium neurotoxin as a biological weapon have been carried out by various nations. The Japanese in World War II carried out human experiments on prisoners in Manchuria. Also in World War II, the British secretly used a botulism-impregnated grenade in the assassination of a German Gestapo officer. The United States studied botulinum toxin as a military bioweapon until President Nixon signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention in 1972, ending all US biotoxin weapons research. Iraq and the Soviet Union stockpiled neurotoxin, with Iraq admitting to weaponizing thousands of liters of toxin in warheads after the 1991 Gulf War.
Infant botulism (first recognized in 1976) is the most common form of the ailment in the United States, but is rarely diagnosed in other countries. It affects about 100 infants per year in the United States, with the majority in the state of California (50?60%). Infants less than 12 months of age are susceptible, with 95% of cases occurring between the ages of 3 weeks and 6 months of age at presentation. The mode of action of this form is through colonization by germinating spores in the gut of an infant. The first symptom is usually constipation, followed by generalized weakness, loss of head control and difficulty feeding.
Botulinum neurotoxin is considered one of the most potent, lethal substances known. As little as about one nanogram/kg can be lethal to an individual, and scientists have estimated that about one gram could potentially kill one million people. All forms of botulism can be fatal and are considered medical emergencies. Food-borne botulism can be especially dangerous because many people can be poisoned by eating even small amounts of neurotoxin-contaminated food. A botulism outbreak is a public-health emergency that is reportable to the U.S. government.
Symptoms include double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth and muscle weakness. Treatment may include antitoxins, intensive medical care or surgery of infected wounds.
Prevention of botulism is based on good food preparation (particularly preservation) practices and hygiene. Botulism may be prevented by inactivation of the bacterial spores in heat-sterilized, canned products or by inhibiting growth in all other products. Commercial heat pasteurization (vacuum packed pasteurized products, hot smoked products) may not be sufficient to kill all spores and therefore safety of these products must be based on preventing growth and toxin production. Refrigeration temperatures combined with salt content and/or acidic conditions will prevent the growth or formation of toxin. If exposure to the toxin via an aerosol is suspected, in order to prevent additional exposure to the patient and health care providers, the clothing of the patient must be removed and stored in plastic bags until it can be washed with soap and water. The patient must shower thoroughly.
The paralyzing effect of botulinum toxin makes it useful as a medication when prescribed by your doctor. Botox, which contains a tiny amount of botulinum toxin, reduces facial wrinkles by preventing contraction of muscles beneath the skin.