All News / Outbreaks /

What is Botulism ?

Botulism is a form of food poisoning caused by eating contaminated food containing a toxin that severely affects the nervous system. It can be very serious, although not contagious. There are two other types, wound botulism and infant botulism. These affect the central nervous system and the muscular system.

Causes of Botulism

Clostridium botulinum, a bacteria found in contaminated or incompletely cooked,
canned foods, is the cause of Botulism. This bacteria produces a powerful poison (toxin) that is absorbed from the digestive tract and spreads throughout the central nervous system. Likely foods to cause botulism include: home-canned vegetables and fruits, fish, meat, undercooked sausage, smoked meats and milk products. With infants under 1 year, raw honey or other uncooked foods may be the cause. The bacteria also may infect a wound and produce the toxin.

Signs and Symptoms of Botulism

Symptoms of Botulism usually appear suddenly 18 to 36 hours after eating contaminated food. They include blurred or double vision, drooping eyelids, dry mouth, slurred speech, swallowing difficulty, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness of the arms and legs. As the condition progresses, paralysis may develop. There is not direct effect on mental abilities and there is no fever associated with Botulism. Symptoms appearing in infants include severe constipation, feeble cry, and the inability to suck.

Get Help

Affected by an outbreak or recall?

The team at Marler Clark is here to answer all your questions. Find out if you’re eligible for a lawsuit, what questions to ask your doctor, and more.

Get a free consultation
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...

Outbreak Database

Looking for a comprehensive list of outbreaks?

The team at Marler Clark is here to answer all your questions. Find out if you’re eligible for a lawsuit, what questions to ask your doctor, and more.

View Outbreak Database