Botulism is a rare but very serious paralytic illness that is caused by botulinum toxin(potentially deadly neurotoxin) which is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. The botulinum toxin can enter the body in 3 main ways: by the ingestion of the toxin from eating foods that contain the botulism toxin (food borne botulism), by the contamination of a wound by the bacterium in which the toxin is produced (wound botulism) and Infant botulism which is caused by consuming the spores of the botulinum bacteria, which then grow in the intestines and release the toxin. The powerful exotoxin (botulinum toxin) leads to secretory diarrhea. All forms of botulism can be fatal and are therefore considered to be medical emergencies. Food borne botulism can be very dangerous because there is not a single person at risk but instead many people can be poisoned by the consumption of contaminated food.
What kind of a germ is Clostridium botulinum?
Clostridium botulinum is a gram positive rod shaped bacteria and is part of a group of bacteria which are commonly found in soil all over the world. These rod shaped anaerobic organisms grow best in low or absent oxygen conditions. Clostridium botulinum forms spores which provide them with the ability of surviving in a dormant state until they are exposed to conditions that support their growth. As spores they are able to survive the inhospitable conditions of the stomach in their transit to the large intestine. They are commonly found in foods such as honey though they are not usually harmful to adults. The spores that do pass to the colon and are able to germinate cannot compete with the normal microflora and do not thus cause disease. In the case of infants, however the ingested spores can germinate and grow in the colon due to the lack of development of the resident microflora. The Clostridium botulinum spores germinate and produce botulism toxin. There are seven types of botulism toxin,...
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