Botulism is a life threatening illness that leads to flaccid paralysis of the muscles. This condition is quite rare and occurs due to a neurotoxin, mostly the botulinum toxin, which is produced by the Clostridium Botulinum bacteria. This bacterium is found in soils all across the globe. They are anaerobic organisms, which mean that they thrive in environments where the oxygen levels are low or absent.
Botulinum toxin, used in minute amounts, can be a very effective medicine, for certain problems. It is often used in the treatment of excessive underarm perspiration and eyelid spasms. Botulinum toxin also helps reduce wrinkles on the face, as it prevents muscle contraction, beneath the skin. However, one of the rare side effects of using this this substance is muscle paralysis that extends beyond the treated area. Moreover, when the spores of the Clostridium Botulinum bacteria enter the body and produce neurotoxins, it leads to Botulism. There are mainly three types of Botulism, which are listed below:
- Infant Botulism: This is the most common type of Botulism, which occurs in babies who are between the ages of 2 months and 6 months. It begins soon after the infant consumes Clostridium Botulinum bacteria spores. The bacteria grow in an infant’s intestinal tract and release the neurotoxin that causes the condition.
- Wound Botulism: Studies show that this is the least common form of botulism, which occurs when a wound gets infected with the Clostridium Botulinum bacteria. After getting in through the cut, the bacteria cause a severe infection, which produces the neurotoxin.
- Food-borne Botulism: Like the name suggests, this condition occurs when a person consumes foods that have been contaminated by the Clostridium Botulinum spores. Food-borne Botulism is usually a result of eating home-canned foods or fermented and uncooked dishes.
There are close to 110 reported cases of Botulism in the US each year, of which 72% are Infant Botulism, 25% are Food-borne Botulism and the remaining 3% are Wound Botulism.
There are three other botulism types that have also been described, but their instances have been extremely rare. These include:
- Injection Botulism: Patients who are injected with a high amount of therapeutic neurotoxins, like BOTOX, are at a risk of contracting Injection Botulism
- Inhalation Botulism: Laboratory personnel who come into contact with neurotoxins on a regular basis could be at a high risk of this condition.
- Intestinal Botulism: Older children who have abnormal bowel movements could suffer from this health problem.
Unfortunately, all the 6 types of Botulism are very serious and can also be potentially fatal.