ABC Medical Center > Botulism

What is Botulism?

21:53 - 4 May , 2021


It is a pathology caused by a bacteria called Clostridium botulinum, which can enter the body through an open wound or by eating poorly canned or preserved food, putting the body at risk and even leading to death.

The greatest danger lies in losing the respiratory capacity, but botulism can also cause:

  • Generalized weakness.
  • Swallowing problems.
  • Difficulty speaking.
  • Lack of body control.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Paralysis.
  • Droopy eyelids.

Infant botulism is the most frequent, occurring when the bacteria develop in the baby’s intestines, usually due to the consumption of contaminated honey or corn syrup.

Signs and symptoms Botulism

The first warning signs appear between 8 and 34 hours after eating the contaminated food.

The characteristic symptoms in adults are:

  • Abdominal cramps.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Speech and swallowing problems.
  • Nausea.
  • Paralysis on both sides of the body.
  • Vomit.

In babies, symptoms include:

  • Excessive salivation.
  • Drooping eyelids.
  • Weakness.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Constipation.
  • Lack of appetite.
  • Constant and weak cries.

You must immediately go to the ABC Medical Center Emergency Room if you notice any of these symptoms because timely diagnosis and treatment reduce deaths from botulism.

Potential risks:

Several complications can be triggered by this disease:

  • Breathing difficulties that can lead to death.
  • Aspiration pneumonia.
  • Prolonged weakness.
  • Nervous system problems for up to a year or more.

Diagnosis and treatment Botulism

Once your doctor reviews your or your baby’s symptoms, he or she will perform a physical examination to check for signs of muscle weakness or paralysis. He or she will also request a blood and stool test to confirm the diagnosis.

Because tests can take time, the physical examination can be of great help to determine if it is botulism and start with the appropriate treatment, which focuses on attacking the symptoms and eradicating the toxin produced by the bacteria, which may include:

  • Botulinum antitoxin.
  • Antibiotics (in case of botulism from a wound).
  • Mechanical respiratory support.
  • Rehabilitation therapies.
  • Surgery to remove infected tissue (when it comes to wound botulism).

At ABC Medical Center’s Internal Medicine Department, we offer health care services with the highest quality and safety, from the prevention, diagnosis, timely treatment, and monitoring of infectious, respiratory, endocrinological, dermatological, rheumatic, nephrological, gastrointestinal, and hematological pathologies of both chronic-degenerative diseases and acute conditions, through a comprehensive and multidisciplinary model.


  • cdc.gov
  • medlineplus.gov
  • mayoclinic.org
  • msdmanuals.com
  • cun.es
  • topdoctors.es
  • medigraphic.com
  • Quevedo–Florez LA, Nariño–Gonzalez D, Aguiar-Martinez LG, et al. Botulismo iatrogénico en paciente con distonía cervical: Reporte de caso. Rev Mex Neuroci. 2016;17(2):99-103.
  • Soberanis RO, Ramos GC. El bioterrorismo desde el punto de vista de la salud pública. Enf Infec Microbiol. 2009;29(1):29-36.

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