Food-borne botulism is most commonly associated with improperly canned foods, specifically low acid foods like green beans, beets and corn, but can develop in improperly stored cooked foods as well. There have been some cases associated with honey, infused cooking oils and canned or fermented seafood.
Botulism is a neurotoxin produced by a specific type of bacteria. There are several types of the botulism toxin that can effect humans and they are considered to be some of the most toxic substances known. The bacteria can be ingested, inhaled or can enter a wound. Wound botulism is rare but there has been an increase in cases due to intravenous drug use. Symptoms usually occur within 36 hrs of ingestion. Wound botulism symptoms will begin between 4 and 14 days after exposure. Botulism does not transfer human to human. Infants are highly susceptible to botulism. If left untreated, the mortality rate in adults is around 70%. With proper medical care the mortality rate is around 3%.
Symptoms: Blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, muscle weakness, dry mouth. Possible nausea and vomiting. Later symptoms include paralysis and respiratory failure.
Treatment: If caught early enough, botulism is treated by an anti-toxin once the particular strain is identified. A mechanical ventilator may also be necessary. Wounds may need surgery to remove infected tissue. Recovery often takes weeks.
Prevention: Pay attention to any canned food, check for bulging lids or leaks and discard any suspect cans or jars, don’t even open them. Boil home canned foods for 10 minutes before eating. Botulism bacteria can multiply quickly on cooked food. It grows best with little oxygen and between the temperatures of 40-140 degrees F. so keeping cold foods below 40 degrees and cooked foods over 140 degrees will prevent bacteria spore production. Disinfect utensils, hands and surfaces before preparing food and after handling raw meats and seafood.by