- Patient Comments: Botulism - Symptoms
- Patient Comments: Botulism - Diagnosis
- Patient Comments: Botulism - Early Signs or Symptoms
- Patient Comments: Botulism - Cosmetic and Medical Treatments
- Patient Comments: Botulism - Treatment
- Botulism facts
- What is botulism?
- What causes botulism?
- What are risk factors for botulism?
- How many kinds of botulism are there?
- How serious is botulism?
- How does botulism neurotoxin affect the body?
- What kind of organism is Clostridium botulinum?
- How common is botulism?
- What are botulism symptoms and signs?
- How soon do botulism symptoms appear?
- What health specialists treat botulism?
- How do health care professionals diagnose botulism?
- What is the treatment for botulism?
- What are complications from botulism?
- What is the prognosis of people with botulism?
- Is it possible to prevent botulism?
- Is botulism neurotoxin really considered to be a potential biological weapon?
- Why are botulism neurotoxins used as cosmetic treatments or treatments for some medical conditions?
Quick GuideUncommon and Common Food-Poisoning Dangers in Pictures
How serious is botulism?
Botulinum neurotoxin is considered one of the most potent, lethal substances known. As little as about 1 nanogram/kg can be lethal to an individual, and scientists have estimated that about 1 gram could potentially kill 1 million people. This small amount of toxin capable of killing humans has made the toxin a candidate for use in weapons for biowarfare and bioterrorism. All forms of botulism can be fatal and are considered medical emergencies. Foodborne botulism can be especially dangerous because many people can be poisoned by eating even small amounts of neurotoxin-contaminated food because the toxin is easily absorbed by the digestive system. A botulism outbreak is a public health emergency that is reportable to the U.S. government.
How does botulism neurotoxin affect the body?
A neurotoxin actually paralyzes the nerves so that the muscles cannot contract. This happens when the neurotoxin enters nerve cells and eventually interferes with the release of acetylcholine so the nerve cannot stimulate the muscle to contract. Unless the nerve can regenerate a new axon that has no exposure to the neurotoxin, the interference at the neuromuscular junction is permanent. This is why it takes so long to recover from botulism and also why cosmetic and therapeutic uses of diluted neurotoxin can be effective for relatively lengthy time periods.
What kind of organism is Clostridium botulinum?
Clostridium botulinum is the name of bacteria commonly found in soil all over the world. The bacteria are considered to be anaerobic, which means these organisms grow best in low or absent oxygen levels. Clostridium bacteria are gram-positive rod-shaped bacteria that form spores that allow the bacteria to survive in a dormant state until exposed to conditions that can support growth. There are seven types of botulism neurotoxin designated by the letters A through G. Only types A, B, E, and F cause illness in humans.