Food can be contaminated with the bacteria and its toxin. It is the toxin produced by
itself—that causes botulism in humans. Food that may be contaminated with the toxin include:
- Home-canned goods
- Meat products
- Canned vegetables
- If an infant swallows C botulinum spores, they will grow in the baby's body and produce the toxin. Unlike adults and older children, infants become sick from toxin produced by bacteria growing in their own intestines. Honey is a prime source of infant botulism. Other sources include soil and dust.
- A wound can become infected with the bacteria (rare in the US). The toxin then travels to other parts of the body through the bloodstream.
- Eating improperly cooked or canned foods
- For infants, consuming honey
- Using IV drugs (rare)
- Muscle weakness
- Double or blurred vision
- Droopy eyelids
- Trouble swallowing
- Dry mouth
- Sore throat
- Slurred speech
- Difficulty breathing
- Not eating or sucking
- Little energy
- Poor muscle tone
- Weak cry
Your doctor may need to test your bodily fluids. This can be done with:
- Blood tests
- Spinal fluid analysis
- Your doctor may need pictures of the inside of your brain. This can be done with an MRI scan .
- Your doctor may need to evaluate the nerves in your body. This can be done with nerve conduction tests .
|Intubation to Assist with Breathing|
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Methods to Eliminate the Toxin
- Surgery to clean a wound
- Antibiotics to treat a wound infection
- Do not feed honey to children less than one year old.
- Refrigerate oils that contain garlic or herbs.
- Bake potatoes without foil. If potatoes are wrapped in foil, keep them hot until served or refrigerate them.
- Do not taste foods that appear spoiled.
- Do not eat food from a can that is bulging.
- Boil home-canned foods for 10-20 minutes before eating.
- Practice good hygiene when canning. Follow government recommendations.
- Seek medical care for wounds. Return to the doctor if a wound looks infected (redness, warmth, pus, tenderness).
- Do not inject illicit drugs.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov/
Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education http://www.canfightbac.org/en/
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Botulism. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/nczved/divisions/dfbmd/diseases/botulism/ . Updated October 6, 2010. Accessed January 7, 2013.
Botulism. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed . Updated October 5, 2012. Accessed January 7, 2013.
Botulism. FoodSafety.gov website. Available at: http://www.foodsafety.gov/poisoning/causes/bacteriaviruses/botulism/index.html . Accessed January 7, 2013.
Botulism. KidsHealth.org website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/kid/watch/house/botulism.html . Updated October 2011. Accessed January 7, 2013.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 11/2012 -
- Update Date: 11/26/2012 -