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Definition of Foodborne Botulism

Definition of foodborne botulism
Botulism is a disease caused by a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum transmitted by food.
Clostridium botulinum produces toxins (doctors speak intoxination) that infect the human body and can be fatal.

Botulism is rare and most often transmitted through food, more rarely by injury (contamination of a wound with penetration of toxins in the blood).

The bacteria responsible for botulism is very common in the environment such as soil, water or agricultural products.

Risks and health issues of the bacteria

Botulism is a rare disease, with an incidence of approximately 0.5 per 1 million inhabitants.
It is a notifiable disease.

Recent outbreaks of botulism are foodborne with contamination from canned family of meats or meats.
Toxins are usually directly incriminated in food and contamination from one person to another is impossible.

Prevention through industrial action: the canners for example, are required to use thermal processes that destroy spores of Clostridium botulinum.

Added nitrites in food can also reduce the risk of botulism.

Causes and origin of the bacteria

Clostridium botulinum is a bacterium that can live in the presence of air (known strict anaerobic bacteria) and is very common in the environment.

This bacterium has the ability to produce toxins (there are seven types A to G). Once in the body through ingestion of contaminated food most often, these toxins attack the nervous system and cause paralysis to cause symptoms or death.

Symptoms and signs of botulism infection

Symptoms vary depending on the type of toxin and the amount present.

The incubation period (time between exposure to the toxin and the onset of symptoms) is a few hours (6-36 hours).

The first symptoms are neurological disorders such as double vision (diplopia talking about) or blurred vision, difficulty speaking or swallowing, or a dry mouth or headache.

Signs of paralysis most important are the face (facial palsy), the muscles of the head, chest and limbs.
Respiratory paralysis can lead to death by asphyxiation

Foodborne botulism Prevention

With what should we be confused?

It should not be confused botulism, a rare and serious disease, with an ordinary food poisoning or viral gastroenteritis.

If early symptoms are often the same (nausea, vomiting ...), the neurological signs are all gravity.

In addition, neurological disorders (speech, facial paralysis or a member ...) can also be confused with a stroke.

In all cases, is required for a medical emergency.

Is there a prevention possible?

A cause of botulism food canning family (asparagus, beans, beets, meat ...).
It is essential to follow strict hygiene when preparing food and heating to high temperatures before eating (boil for 10 minutes).

Some honey contamination can be avoided by not giving honey to children under the age of 1 year (after the age of 1 year, the stomach acid kills the bacteria and prevents this type of contamination).

Finally, visual inspection of cans may alert: Do not use for example in case of box swollen or leaking.

Foodborne botulism Preparing consultation

When to consult?

The onset of neurological symptoms (facial paralysis, slurred speech, visual disturbances such as double vision ...) should never be overlooked.

Call the SAMU-Centre 15 allows diagnosis and emergency treatment regardless of the cause (botulism, stroke ...).

What is the doctor?

The doctor can make the diagnosis on clinical signs, including neurological development (descending paralysis).

The interview can also help diagnose highlighting recent use canned "house" or the existence of other similar cases in the family.

The diagnosis of botulism is confirmed by the detection of the toxin in the patient's blood (lethal test in mice).
Clostridium botulinum can be searched in the feces and suspected foods.

Once diagnosed, monitored in the ICU is often necessary because the treatment is symptomatic with ventilatory support if necessary.
Antibiotics are ineffective.

Botulism can be diagnosed early and treated promptly with an antitoxin.
Finally, the physician has an obligation to report the disease to the health authorities, who will lead an epidemiological investigation to prevent further cases from occurring.

How to prepare my next visit?

Monitoring is usually done in a hospital.
It is important to report any shortness of breath or difficulty swallowing.
These early symptoms are indeed the beginnings to respiratory failure may require urgent transfer to intensive care.

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