Clostridium Botulinum and Botulism

Clostridium Botulinum and Botulism

A  Caitlin, Farida, Nino, Natalie and Simon Presentation


Introduction to C. Botulinum

Introduction to Botulism

Infant Botulism

Food-Borne Botulism

Wound Botulism


Clostridium botulinum

Gram positive rods

Spore forming

Anaerobic bacteria

Produces toxin that causes botulism

Seven neurotoxic subtypes, labeled A-G

First recognized and isolated in 1896 by Van Ermengem


Botulism is a neuroparalytic disease

It is caused by the potent protein toxin released from C. botulinum

Once released into the bloodstream it irreversibly binds to the acetylcholine receptors in the neuromuscular junction

It alters the mechanism for acetylcholine release, making the neuron unresponsive to action potentials

Three major types: Infant, food-borne, and wound

Potential bio-weapon due to its potency

Infant Botulism

Most common form

2 per 100,000 live births in US

Afflicts babies from 1 week – 1 year

Antigenic variations types A/B

Caused by:

Ingesting contaminated foodstuff

Lack of breast milk

Untreated natural honey and corn syrup

Household dust containing C. botulinum spores

Infant Botulism

Signs and Symptoms

Poor feeding (weak sucking)

Weak gag

Weak cry

Decreased movement

Appearing lethargic

Flat, blunted facial expression

Trouble swallowing

Excessive drooling

Muscle weakness

Breathing problems

Ptosis (Drooping eyelids)

Poor head control

Decreased anal sphincter tone

Decreased deep tendon reflexes

Treatment and Recovery

New drug: BabyBIG®, Botulism Immune Globulin Intravenous (Human) (BIG-IV)

Drastically reduces lethargy, IV feeding and overall hospital stay

With early detection, proper treatment, no long term effects observed

Food-borne Botulism

Second most common form

Caused by eating food containing the toxin produced by C. botulinum

Antigenic variations types A/E

Non-commercially canned food is at a higher risk for being contaminated

Dangerous because most contaminated foods cannot be detected until too late

Food-borne Botulism

Signs and Symptoms

12 – 36 hrs after

Muscle weakness,


Blurred vision


Eventual Paralysis

Treatment and Recovery

Equine Botulinum Antitoxin

Lingering symptoms are fatigue and respiratory difficulty

With early detection, proper treatment, no long term effects observed


Inspect canned food for


Loose lids



Proper home canning procedures:


Time schedule,

Proper processing method


Avoiding home canning or cheaply produced commercial food

Wound Botulism

Least common, but on the rise

Occurs when spores inoculate a wound and anaerobic conditions allow germination and subsequent production of the toxin

Associated with IV drug use (rise in black tar heroine use),  and medical equipment

  1. catheters

Often misdiagnosed as other

  neurological syndromes


  1. botulinum is one pathogenic microorganism that has been researched and developed into a biological weapon.

Many countries, and now terrorists, have developed and used botulinum toxin as a biological weapon.

From 1990 to 1995, aerosols were dispersed at multiple sites in downtown Tokyo and at US military installations in Japan on at least 3 occasions by Japanese terrorists.

In 1995, Iraq revealed that it had deployed more than 11,000 L of botulinum toxin into specially designed SCUD missiles.

Smallpox and anthrax may be

  getting the most attention, but

  bio-defense researchers have long been concerned about botulinum toxin, the deadliest of all potential toxic threats gram for gram.

A biological attack with the botulinum toxin would more likely be dispersed in an aerosolized form.

Currently, the US military possesses limited quantities of an investigational heptavalent antitoxin, which might be available in the event of a terrorist attack

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