Botulism is a serious poisoning caused by bacteria, Clostridium botulinum toxin. This is a strong kind of toxin. Thus, even if this disease is a rare, but it can be fatal. This bacteria toxin affects central nervous system, spine, and other nerves. It also can cause paralysis and muscle weakness. If it is not handled immediately, the breathing muscle can be affected and cause respiratory failure. So, a key to early detection of this botulism, is understand the symptoms of botulism early. We can treat it well and the we can prevent death.

Risk Factors

Botulism is from bacteria toxin. It can be in soil, dust, river, and contaminated water. This bacteria actually harmless in its environment. But, this kind of bacteria can produce toxin if the environment less of oxygen. For instance, if the bacteria stay in resident mud and soil, can, or inside the human body.

Types of Botulism and The Symptoms

Foodborne Botulism (Ptomaine poisoning)

This type of botulism is occurred by food can, low acidity, and broken seal of its can. It can be a vegetable, fruits, fish, or meat. The trapped bacteria inside the food can, can cause botulism.

Incubation time is from 12 to 36 hours (about 6 hours to 8 days) after consumed contaminated food. The severity is varied depend on toxin amount and immune competence degree (the attack in 24 hours is signed critical and fatal disease). Some symptoms of foodborne botulism are like:

Acute symmetric cranial nerve damage; it is signed by ptosis (the eyelid drop in one side), diplopia (a sight disturbance where you can see 2 images from single object. This condition should be handled seriously

Dysarthria (a disturbance in speaking that is caused by affected vocal nervous system).

Muscle weakness or paralysis in extremities or body part. It can be your right or left leg, or arm.

Dyspnea (difficulty breathing) is because of respiratory muscle paralysis. Dyspnea usually called shortness of breathing (SOB). It is a sensation where the breathing pattern is unable to fulfill enough oxygen for the body.

This damage influences mental or sensory status

Normal body temperature. In botulism, the symptoms can be different from the infection, because the toxin of bacteria does not affect the immune system to produce white blood cells. So there is no fever in botulism.

Diarrhea, Dry Mouth, Sore Throat, and Vomit

The characteristic of botulism is neuro paralytic. That why early symptoms of botulism is like acute digestive system problems such as like diarrhea, weakness, dizziness, headache, sore throat, and vomit.

Based on those botulism symptoms, doctor usually prescribes laxative to take all of the toxin inside the digestive system.

Infant Botulism

botulism symptoms in infant

Botulism symptoms in infant

Not only adults, but also infant can get botulism. The baby can get this bacteria toxin too from many things. It is usually caused by contaminated baby foods. Baby has a behavior that always put everything into the baby’s mouth. The consumed spore will grow and produce toxin in digestive systems. But don’t worry; the immune system in baby can handle this spore. It is because first year baby has built immune system against this bacteria. What is about under 1 year baby? I think we should know the symptoms as soon as possible in your baby.

Botulism often affects 3-20 weeks babies. Hypottonic baby syndrome (floppy) is the name with symptoms:

  • Areflexia (the absence of tendon reflex).
  • Constipation
  • Cranial nerves deficits that involve weak face expression, ptosis, and oftalmophlegia (weakness or paralysis in eye muslces).
  • Suppressed gag reflex
  • General muscle weakness
  • Hypotonic
  • Unable in sucking
  • No head control
  • Respiratory deficits

Wound Botulism

botulism symptoms in drug abuse

Bacteria can infect open wound. It always occurred in drug abuse. The botulism bacteria can contaminate drug such as heroin. When the heroin injected into the body, bacteria inside it will grow and develop fast and produce toxin. Recently, case of botulism increase in people with drug abuse, especially heroin injection. Another case, wound botulism can appear from a wounded nose. Heroin inhalation is one of the cause of it.

If you get wound botulism and don’t get medical treatment immediately, you might die. So if you found people with certain symptoms, call a doctor or bring them to emergency room immediately!

The symptoms of wound botulism usually appear for several days after injecting contaminated drug. It is rare that after injection the symptoms appear immediately. Why is it so? It is because the bacteria needs time to multiply in the body and produce the deathly toxin.

Some symptoms you might have are:

  • Double vision
  • Blurred vision
  • Ptosis (drooping eyelids in one side)
  • Difficulty in speaking and swallowing
  • Dry mouth
  • Muscle weakness.

As the disease gets worse, you may develop more symptoms such as dyspnea (difficulty breathing), paralysis. You have to be aware of these symptoms because in wound botulism has no infection signs in your wound.

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