Botulism

Definition of Botulism

Botulism is a rare but serious illness caused by bacteria. The bacteria may enter the body through wounds, or they may live in improperly canned or preserved food.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

is found in soil and untreated water throughout the world. It produces spores that survive in improperly preserved or canned food, where they produce toxin. When eaten, even tiny amounts of this toxin can lead to severe poisoning.

Symptoms

Symptoms usually appear 8 – 36 hours after consuming contaminated food. There is NO fever with this infection.

Signs and tests

The doctor will perform a physical exam. There may be signs of:

Treatment

Botulinus antitoxin is given.

Expectations (prognosis)

Prompt treatment significantly reduces the risk of death.

Review

Linda Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine; Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 8/28/2009

Bacteria

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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