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Another Story With A Happy Ending!


1. Botulism is the single most acutely toxic substance (natural or manmade) known to science, with a median lethal dose of about 1 ng/kg, meaning that a few hundred grams could theoretically kill every human on earth. (For perspective, the rat poison strychnine, which is also considered to be highly toxic, has a median lethal dose of about 1,000,000 ng/kg, and it would take four hundred tons to kill every human).

2. It is also remarkably easy to come by: Clostridium spores (which form the botulinium toxin in the human intestine if inhaled) are found in soil practically all over the earth… particularly in the state of California.

3. Since botulism is so toxic, many (including the US government) have researched it’s application as a biological weapon. Although it hasn’t been used in overt warfare, it was used in "Operation Mongoose" where in 1961, the CIA saturated some cigars, of Fidel Castro’s favorite brand, with botulinum toxin for a possible assassination attempt. The cigars were never used, but when tested years later were found still effective.

4. And it sucks.

Botulism Fun Facts was first appeared last May 31 on Vita Hardy’s Blog.

Vita, who hails from Santa Cruz, CA, was 7 months old on July 4th and she is a botulism survivor.
According to her mother, a little over six weeks ago Vita was diagnosed with botulism. What followed was not pleasant, but the infant is making an excellent recovery. Both her encounter with Infant Botulism(IB) and her great recovery can be followed by looking at her blog entries for May and June.

Thanks to her Mom Jennifer for sharing it with us!

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Related Resources
What is Botulism?

Botulism is a life-threatening paralytic illness caused by neurotoxins produced by an anaerobic, gram-positive, spore-forming bacterium—Clostridium botulinum. Botulism is a rare disease and only affects a few hundred persons each...

Epidemiology and Microbiology of Botulism

C. botulinum bacteria and spores are widely distributed in nature because they are indigenous to soils and waters. They occur in both cultivated and forest soils, bottom sediment of streams...

Symptoms of Botulism

After their ingestion, botulinum neurotoxins are absorbed primarily in the duodenum and jejunum, pass into the bloodstream, and travel to synapses in the nervous system. There, the neurotoxins cause flaccid...

Detection and Treatment of Botulism

Although botulism can be diagnosed based on clinical symptoms, distinguishing it from other diseases is often difficult, especially in the absence of other known persons affected by the condition. Common...

Botulism Outcomes and Long-Term and Permanent Injury

In the past 50 years, mortality from botulism has fallen dramatically (from about 50% to 8%) because of advances in supportive care, which is the mainstay of treatment. The respiratory...

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