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Friday, 31 May 2013

Foodborne botulism






Foodborne botulism, a potentially lethal neuroparalytic disease, is caused by ingesting preformed Clostridium botulinum neurotoxin.

Botulism is a rare but serious paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin that is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum and sometimes by strains of Clostridium butyricum and Clostridium baratii. There are five main kinds of botulism. Foodborne botulism is caused by eating foods that contain the botulinum toxin.
Wound botulism is caused by toxin produced from a wound infected with Clostridium botulinum. Infant botulism is caused by consuming the spores of the botulinum bacteria, which then grow in the intestines and release toxin. Adult intestinal toxemia (adult intestinal colonization) botulism is a very rare kind of botulism that occurs among adults by the same route as infant botulism.
Lastly, iatrogenic botulism can occur from accidental overdose of botulinum toxin. All forms of botulism can be fatal and are considered medical emergencies. Foodborne botulism is a public health emergency because many people can be poisoned by eating a contaminated food.

The classic symptoms of botulism include double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, and muscle weakness. Infants with botulism appear lethargic, feed poorly, are constipated, and have a weak cry and poor muscle tone. These are all symptoms of the muscle paralysis caused by the bacterial toxin. If untreated, these symptoms may progress to cause paralysis of the respiratory muscles, arms, legs, and trunk. In foodborne botulism, symptoms generally begin 18 to 36 hours after eating a contaminated food, but they can occur as early as 6 hours or as late as 10 days.

Botulism can result in death due to respiratory failure. A patient with severe botulism may require a breathing machine as well as intensive medical and nursing care for several months, and some patients die from infections or other problems related to remaining paralyzed for weeks or months. Patients who survive an episode of botulism poisoning may have fatigue and shortness of breath for years and long-term therapy may be needed to aid recovery.

The respiratory failure and paralysis that occur with severe botulism may require a patient to be on a breathing machine (ventilator) for weeks or months, plus intensive medical and nursing care. The paralysis slowly improves. Botulism can be treated with an antitoxin which blocks the action of toxin circulating in the blood. Antitoxin for infants is available from the California Department of Public Health, and antitoxin for older children and adults is available through CDC.If given before paralysis is complete, antitoxin can prevent worsening and shorten recovery time. Physicians may try to remove contaminated food still in the gut by inducing vomiting or by using enemas. Wounds should be treated, usually surgically, to remove the source of the toxin-producing bacteria followed by administration of appropriate antibiotics. Good supportive care in a hospital is the mainstay of therapy for all forms of botulism.

Because the botulinum toxin is destroyed by high temperatures, persons who eat home-canned foods should consider boiling the food for 10 minutes before eating it to ensure safety.

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CDC, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases; http://tinyurl.com/25t7fbh
CDC Research, Foodborne Botulism in the United States, 1990–2000; http://tinyurl.com/cml4ohr






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