Botulism is a rare but serious disease that occurs when a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum produces a toxin. The toxin attacks the body’s nerves.

It can happen as a result of food or wound contamination. It can also occur in infants.


Botulism occurs when Clostridium botulinum bacteria make toxins that weaken the muscles in the body. The toxins can also cause breathing problems.

Botulinum spores are often found in soil and dust that can be breathed in. Infants under 6 months of age can get botulism if they ingest these spores.

These spores can also be found in honey, but they do not cause botulism in healthy older children and adults. For these reasons, experts recommend that babies should not eat honey until they are at least one year old.

The bacteria can also grow and make the toxins in foods that aren’t processed or preserved properly. For example, ready-to-eat foods that are in low oxygen-packaging or contaminated with dirt can create the perfect environment for these bacteria to thrive and make the toxins.


Botulism is a serious illness that attacks your body’s nervous system, causing weakness and muscle paralysis. It is a rare condition that can be fatal if it’s not treated promptly.

Foodborne botulism occurs when a person eats a contaminated food that contains the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. This bacterium is found all over the world in soil and water.

When a person eats contaminated food, the spores can grow inside the intestine and release a potent neurotoxin that acts on the nerves in the gastrointestinal tract. It can also be absorbed from the lungs when a person breathes in the toxins.

Infant botulism is a type of botulism that occurs in infants up to about 6 months old, usually after they swallow botulinum spores from contaminated soil or honey. The spores germinate (grow) and produce the toxin in the intestinal tract of these babies.

Wound botulism is another type of botulism that’s associated with substance abuse, specifically drug users who inject black tar heroin into their skin rather than into their veins. This form of botulism usually takes longer to develop than the others.


Botulinum toxin is a medication that's used to treat certain types of muscle disorders. It is also sometimes used for cosmetic purposes.

If botulism is diagnosed early, it can be treated with an antitoxin (botulinum toxin). This drug binds to the toxins and prevents them from hurting your nerves. However, it can't undo any damage that has already been done to your muscles.

The treatment of botulism is usually intensive, and people with severe botulism may need to be on a breathing machine for weeks or months. They may also have weakness or paralysis that starts from their head and spreads down to their feet, legs, arms, and back.

The best chance of recovery is to get treatment quickly. This includes administering an antitoxin within the first 2 days of a person's symptoms.


Botulism is a serious illness that can cause death. It occurs when Clostridium botulinum spores enter the intestine and grow into bacteria that produce toxins.

These toxins can damage nerves that control your arms, legs, and muscles that help you breathe. Symptoms usually begin 12 to 36 hours after eating a contaminated food.

Infant botulism is most common in babies younger than 15 months of age. A baby with this condition may look tired, have little facial expression, have a weak cry or poor head control, and appear “floppy.”

To prevent botulism, never eat foods from cans that are bulging, dented, or leaking. Also, keep oils infused with garlic or herbs refrigerated. Pressure-cooking foods, especially those containing high-pH ingredients, destroys spores and their toxins.

Tags: botulinum