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Botulism

 

Botulism is a medical emergency affecting the nerves leading to paralysis.

Causes

  • Botulin toxin produced by bacteria called clostridium botulinum
  • Food contaminated by the toxin
  • Consumption of spores of the bacteria, mostly from honey
  • Infection of wounds by the bacteria

Symptoms

  • Muscle weakness
  • Vision problems such as double vision and blurred vision
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Dry mouth

In case of infants:

  • Constipation
  • Poor appetite
  • Overall weakness

Treatment

  • Antitoxins can be used to treat it if detected early
  • Enemas or induced vomiting may be required to empty the digestive system of the contaminated food
  • Surgical treatment is used to remove bacteria from the infected wounds
  • In severe cases of paralysis, ventilators and intensive medical care may be required

Prevention

  • Do not feed honey to infants
  • Treat wounds promptly and keep them clean
  • Heat or boil canned food for atleast 10 minutes before consumption
  • Take extreme care while canning foods at home
  • Do not consume food from bulging cans