Botulism: what is this serious illness, which can affect all of us?


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Botulism: what is this serious illness, which can affect all of us?


A case of botulism reported in Île-de-France

A case of botulism has recently been reported in Ile-de-France. As revealed The Parisian, a resident of Essonne was taken care of last August following a malaise. Today paralyzed, it is a botulinum toxin which would be at the origin of this hospitalization. The bacterium responsible for this condition was later found in a soup several weeks old, in the refrigerator of the patient.

Botulism: what is this neurological condition?

If botulism is a neurological disease that remains rare, it can be very serious, even fatal in some cases, because of the potency of the toxins involved.

It's the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, present in some stale or poorly preserved foods, who is responsible for this condition. Other forms of poisoning exist and can be the cause of botulism: by inhalation, by means of a wound, for example. Infant botulism can affect infants.

Once ingested by the human body, the bacterium Clostridium botulinum can produce dangerous botulinum toxins, which are neurotoxic, and can thus block the nerve functions of the person and cause paralysis.

Among the forms of botulinum toxin that exist, 4 can be the cause of botulism in humans: they are toxins type A, B, E and F.

Botulinum toxins: foods carrying these bacteria

The origin of the contamination is mostly food. Food that is poorly preserved, or whose expiry date has passed, can develop this bacterium, which in turn produces these botulinum toxins that are very dangerous for our organism.

Some foods are more likely to carry this bacteria: some vegetables (green beans, mushrooms, beets, spinach), but also fish (including canned fish such as tuna), cold cuts. (sausage, sausages, ham ...).

The symptoms of botulism

  • Vision disorders
  • Dryness in the mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing or expressing yourself
  • Respiratory failure
  • Paralysis of certain muscles
  • At a more advanced stage of the disease, other, more serious symptoms may be triggered, such as more extensive paralysis of the muscles, including the respiratory muscles.

This neurological condition, is it contagious?

The transmission of botulism does not occur from one individual to another, but through injury, by inhalation, or through the consumption of a poorly preserved food carrying the bacteria Clostridium botulinum.

However, in the same household, it is not uncommon for there to be several cases of contaminations since food botulism is often linked to the consumption of homemade preserves and jars, poorly preserved food products or foods whose date of expiry is exceeded. If more than one family member consumes the same food, and the bacteria is present in this product, all people who have eaten the same food may be contaminated ... The symptoms may then be different from one person to one other depending on the reactions of the immune system.

Botulism: treatments and vaccine

Since antibiotics are not effective against this condition, other treatments may be given to the patient.

The symptoms will be treated on the one hand. For advanced forms, a breathing assistance can be put in place.

An immunizing serum (serotherapy) may be administered to patients who suffer from severe botulism, provided that they are indicated within 24 hours after the onset of symptoms.

Botulinum antitoxin may be used to treat this infectious disease.

Note that a vaccine exists against botulinum toxins, but because of the side effects it exposes, it is intended only for people at risk, such as those who work in the laboratory.

Read also :

⋙ Botulism: how to avoid this food poisoning?

⋙ Botulism: why Baby should not eat honey

⋙ How to properly preserve food to preserve its benefits?


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