Botulism - Causes and Symptoms
Botulism is a rare but serious illness caused by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum . The bacterium may enter the body through wounds, or they may live in improperly canned or preserved food. Botulism results from an exotoxin produced by the gram-positive, anaerobic bacillus Clostridium botulinum. Mortality from botulism is about 25%, with death most often caused by respiratory failure during the first week of illness.
Botulism is caused by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. This bacterium produces a toxin called botulinum that affects the nerves and paralyzes muscles. This syndrome is called botulism.
Even small amounts of botulinum toxin can cause botulism in one of two ways. One way is by ingesting the toxin itself (food borne botulism), as in canned foods. When you eat food containing the toxin, it disrupts nerve function, causing paralysis. The other way is by infection with the bacterial spores that produce and release the toxin in the body (infectious botulism). The infection may occur in the intestine (intestinal botulism), as in a newborn, or deep within a wound (wound botulism). When the germs get into a wound, they can multiply and produce toxin, too. Babies get infant botulism after consuming spores of the bacteria, which then grow in the digestive system and make toxins.
Botulinum toxin Uses
Botulinum toxin can sometimes prove to be usufull too. Botox, which contains a tiny amount of botulinum toxin, harmlessly reduces facial wrinkles by preventing contraction of muscles beneath the skin. Other uses for Botox include treating eyelid spasms and, experimentally, migraine headaches.
Botulism is a very severe, sometimes fatal food poisoning caused by ingestion of food containing botulin. Symptoms of botulism usually appear between 8 - 36 hours after consuming contaminated food.
Botulism is mainly characterized by:
All the above symptoms are of muscle paralysis, mainly caused by the bacterial toxin. If the disease is not treated in time - it may progress to cause paralysis of the arms, legs, trunk and respiratory muscles.
I.V. or I.M. administration of botulinum antitoxin (available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is the treatment of choice. Antitoxin is not, however, recommended in cases of infants, since it doesn't affect the disease-causing germs in the baby's digestive system. A treatment called botulism immune globulin has been investigated to treat infants; it appears effective in reducing the duration and severity of cases.
ALERT Antibiotics and aminoglycosides should be avoided because of the risk of neuromuscular blockade. They should be used only to treat secondary infections.
The most serious complication is respiratory failure. Treatment aims to maintain adequate oxygen supply, which may require a ventilator and close monitoring in an intensive care unit. Feeding through a tube may also be necessary.
Some of the Prevention Tips for Botulism are:
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