Botulism at a glance:
- The botulism neurotoxin is one of the most potent, lethal substances known.
- Botulism is a disease caused by this neurotoxin (or specifically A, B, E, or F type neurotoxin).
- The neurotoxin is produced by bacteria called Clostridium botulinum.
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he neurotoxin paralyzes muscles and can be deadly.
- There are three major types of botulism that differ in how they are acquired: food-borne, wound, and infant botulism.
- Food-borne botulism is usually caused by eating contaminated home-canned foods.
- Never taste-test food that may have gone bad.
- Wound botulism is due to Clostridium bacteria infecting a wound and releasing the neurotoxin.
- In infant botulism, the baby consumes spores of the bacteria which then grow in the baby’s intestine and release the neurotoxin.
- Honey can contain spores of the bacteria and should not be fed to babies less than 1 year of age.
- Early food-borne and wound botulism can be treated with an antitoxin to block the action of the neurotoxin.
- Botulism neurotoxin is listed as a potential biological weapon.
- Botulism neurotoxin is used in dilute concentration to treat medical and cosmetic conditions.