Botulism is a rare but extremely dangerous illness caused by a toxin produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum. The bacteria can enter the body through colonization of the digestive tract, through ingestion from food sources, or through the contamination of wounds. When the toxin from the bacteria enters the body, it causes paralysis to the muscles in the face and spreads to the limbs. In severe cases, it can lead to life-threatening respiratory failure.
Symptoms of Botulism
Botulism causes weakness and paralysis of muscles. Anyone who is experiencing these symptoms of botulism should seek emergency medical attention immediately:
- Double vision
- Drooping eyelids
- Loss of facial expression
- Difficulty swallowing or speaking
- Weakness spreading to the arms and legs
- Difficulty breathing
Types of Botulism
There are four main types of botulism, classified by the way the bacteria enters the body:
- Food-borne Botulism: Results from food contaminated with germinated spores of Clostridium botulinum. Can occur in home-canned and fermented, uncooked foods. When preparing foods the old-fashioned way, make sure all foods are properly stored and prepared to prevent sickness.
- Wound Botulism: Results from bacterial contamination of an open wound. The bacteria secrete toxins into the bloodstream, which then causes muscle paralysis. Wound botulism is sometimes experienced among intravenous drug users.
- Infant Botulism: Occurs when the bacteria colonize the digestive tract of small children. About one-fifth of the cases are caused by the consumption of honey, which an infant’s digestive system is not yet equipped to handle. To prevent sickness from botulism, it is important to never feed honey to infants less than 12 months in age.
- Adult Intestinal Toxima: The adult from of infant botulism, which is very rare.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of botulism or another food-borne illness, contact the Iowa personal injury lawyers of LaMarca Law Group, P.C. at 877-327-2600 to discuss your rights and legal options.