The toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum, a bacteria, is one of the most toxic substances known to man. The toxin causes paralysis of muscles by blocking normal nerve-muscle communication. If the toxin enters the bloodstream, it can cause death by paralyzing the muscles required for breathing. Infants, usually between 3 weeks and 6 months of age, may be exposed to the toxin in food items such as home-canned vegetables or honey. The toxin has been used as a medical agent for causing paralysis in face muscles for cosmetic reasons (i.e., Botox injections).
- Botulism (characterized by "floppy" paralysis in infants)
Habitat & Transmission
- Spores are widespread in soil.
- Spores float in the air like dust and contaminate foods.
- They spread to humans by way of infected fish, home-canned vegetables, honey.
- Like a turtle hiding in its shell, spores are highly resistant to harsh environments including extreme temperatures, and lack of food and water.
- Once infected food is eaten, they can enter the blood and create a nerve poison that can cause paralysis and death.
- Proper cooking and boiling of food can destroy spores and inactivate the nerve poison.
- The paralysis caused by the botulism nerve poison can cause death if not treated quickly.
- In small amounts, the nerve poison has been used to relieve some types of severe muscle cramping. (i.e., "Botox" injections)
Last Updated (Monday, 22 June 2009 20:09)