Botulism is a condition brought about by a toxin released by the Clostridium botulinum bacteria. The spores produced by the bacteria are naturally present in the environment, usually in garden soil. Even though botulism is a serious condition, it is relatively uncommon.
How can I end up with botulism?
One can acquire botulism in 2 ways:
- Via food – usually from honey, canned food, home preserves, seafood, meat and soft cheeses
- Through wounds – this is common among individuals who work on the land or utilize injectable drugs
When it comes to infant botulism, a child acquires the clostridium botulinum bacteria in the gut and it releases the toxin from there. Take note that honey can oftentimes trigger this which is why children below 12 months old must not be provided with honey.
What are the indications?
The indicative symptom of botulism is significant weakness. This can be severe that the individual finds it hard to open his/her eyes, difficult to speak and barely has strength to breathe which is oftentimes fatal.
Among adults with botulism, they can also develop diarrhea and vomiting, blurred vision and a dry mouth. Infants with botulism could not tell how they feel. The condition makes it hard for them to cry, eat, move and even drink.
If an individual is suspected with botulism, a doctor should be consulted as soon as possible or bring him/her to the nearest emergency department. Once medical care is rapidly sought, early treatment can minimize the severity of the condition.
Even though botulism is rare, there are measures that can minimize the risk such as the following:
- Avoid giving honey to infants
- Open wounds should be covered when gardening or when in contact with soil
- Proper care must be observed with food preservation. The spores of the bacteria are capable of surviving at temperatures of 100 degrees C, thus ensure that the food is properly cooked and the containers used for storing are meticulously sterilized
- Discard canned food that is past its use-by-date, spoiled or damaged