Food botulism

What is foodborne botulism?

Foodborne botulism is a rare but serious food poisoning that can cause paralysis. This disease is caused by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum.

Foodborne botulism can be fatal and is therefore a condition that requires emergency medical attention.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of foodborne botulism are important to recognize because this disease can progress quickly and cause serious health problems, including life-threatening complications.

In the following lines, we will look in detail at the symptoms of botulism and what we can expect with this type of infection.

One of the first and early symptoms of foodborne botulism is blurred vision and double vision. These vision problems can come on suddenly and be very distressing.

Saggy eyelids are also a common symptom associated with vision problems and usually occur as a result of paralysis of the muscles around the eyes.

Slurred speech and difficulty swallowing are other characteristic symptoms of botulism. They are due to the paralysis of the muscles responsible for controlling voice production and the throat.

This kind of symptoms can create serious difficulties in communication and in taking food and liquids.

Dry mouth and a feeling of muscle weakness are also common with botulism. These symptoms can be very irritating and create a feeling of discomfort in the affected patient.

In babies who suffer from botulism, the symptoms are varied and usually include lack of energy, difficulty feeding and poor appetite.

They may have less crying and constipation, and their muscle tone is low. These symptoms are the result of the paralysis induced by the neurotoxin.

What causes it?

Foodborne botulism is most often associated with eating contaminated food. The bacterium Clostridium botulinum produces a toxin that can be fatal if it enters the human body.

This toxin often develops in improperly preserved or improperly processed foods where the heat treatment was not sufficient to destroy the bacteria and the toxin.

For this reason, it is extremely important to follow the safety rules when preserving food and follow the relevant instructions to prevent the risk of botulism.

Also, it is important to emphasize that children, especially infants under 1 year of age, are particularly vulnerable to botulism.

They do not have mature stomach acids that can destroy the spores of the bacteria, and it can develop in their gut if they consume unprocessed honey contaminated with botulinum spores.

It is therefore recommended to avoid giving honey to babies under 1 year of age. This is an important measure to protect young children from the risk of botulism infection.

In addition, it is important to emphasize that botulism is not transmitted from person to person like other infectious diseases.

This means that if someone has botulism, they are not likely to spread the disease to other people through contact.

However, serious attention should be paid to food hygiene and proper food handling to avoid the risk of botulism infection.

The prevention of botulism also includes the proper storage of foods after their preparation, especially if it is about canning.

Feeding contaminated foods and highly acidifying products, such as lemon juice, can help prevent the growth of the botulinum bacterium and toxin.

Treatment for foodborne botulism?

If diagnosed early, foodborne botulism can be treated with an antitoxin that blocks the action of the toxin of the botulinum bacterium.

This prevents deterioration of the patient’s condition, but it usually takes many weeks to fully heal.

The treating physician may attempt to remove the bacteria-contaminated food from the digestive tract by inducing vomiting or using enemas.

The paralysis that develops in very severe botulism may make it necessary to place the patient on controlled breathing and constant medical observation.

After a few weeks, the paralysis usually goes away and the patient regains his normal motor abilities.

Newborns are not usually given antitoxin. Infants under 1 year of age are given a special immunoglobulin against botulinum toxin.

How to protect yourself from food-borne botulism?

Food-borne botulism is often caused by foods that are canned at home without following heat treatment standards.

You can prevent foodborne botulism if you preserve food at a high enough temperature to kill the botulinum bacterium or its spores.

You should boil home-canned foods for a minimum of 10 minutes before consuming them. In very rare cases, infection with the botulinum bacterium can occur from foods produced or processed in food processing plants.

You should never give honey to children under 1 year of age, as it has been found that 10% of unpasteurized bee honey contains spores of the botulinum bacterium.

There is also another type of botulism – wound botulism, in which the botulinum bacterium enters the body through an open wound, but this happens rarely and only in people with a weakened immune system.

The immune system of a healthy person destroys the botulinum bacterium early enough and prevents it from releasing its dangerous neurotoxin.

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