- 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 common is botulism?
Because of better canning processes, especially with home canning or home processing of food, the number of yearly cases of foodborne botulism has dropped to about 1,000 worldwide. In the United States, on average, 110 cases of botulism are reported each year. Of these, nearly 25% of cases are foodborne botulism, approximately 72% are infant botulism, and the remainder (about 3%) are wound botulism, which until recently was rare. Outbreaks of foodborne botulism involving two or more people are usually caused by eating contaminated home canned foods. The number of cases of foodborne and infant botulism has changed little in recent years. However, the incidence of wound botulism has increased, especially in California, from the use of black-tar heroin, which causes infected wounds at heroin injection sites.
What are botulism symptoms and signs?
The classic symptoms of botulism include
- double vision,
- blurred vision,
- drooping eyelids,
- slurred speech,
- difficulty swallowing,
- dry mouth,
- muscle weakness (resulting in a flaccid paralysis).
The classic symptoms may also be accompanied by other symptoms and signs such as
- dilated pupil(s),
- abdominal discomfort or pain,
- difficulty speaking,
- difficulty swallowing,
- shortness of breath,
- slow or absent reflexes,
- urinary retention,
- facial weakness,
- eye muscle weakness, and
Constipation may occur. The health care professional's examination may reveal that the gag reflex and the deep tendon reflexes like the knee-jerk reflex are decreased or absent.
Infants with botulism appear lethargic, weak, and floppy, feed poorly, become constipated, and have a weak cry and poor muscle tone. In infants, constipation is often the first symptom to occur.
These are all symptoms and signs related to the muscle paralysis that is caused by the bacterial neurotoxin. If untreated, these symptoms and signs may progress to cause paralysis in various parts of the body, often seen as a descending paralysis of the arms, legs, trunk, and breathing muscles that can lead to death.