Contributor: Gordon K. Klintworth
Botulism is one extremely serious type of Clostridium infection. It is an acute life threatening disease caused by the ingestion of food contaminated with exotoxins of Clostridium botulinum. These exotoxins, which include botulin, have a lethal dose a low as 1ng/kg. and they are among the most potent known human toxins and are can be used as a potential biowarfare agent. Botulin interferes with neuromuscular transmission in cholinergic fibers. The toxin is also used therapeutically for extraocular muscle disorders. Human bolulism occurs in three main forms: infantile, foodborne, and wound. The prevalence of bolulism in the United States is low and 75% of cases are of the infantile variety, which is caused by swallowing airborne spores or the ingestion of honey. Following ingestion symptoms that include diplopia, photophobia and blurred vision usually start <12 hours following ingestion of the contaminated food. Botulism causes ophthalmoplegia, ptosis, and mydriasis and life-threatening complications. An antidote for bolulism is botulism immune globulin (BIG).