Botulism is a serious condition brought about by the botulinum toxin which causes paralysis. Generally, the paralysis starts in the face and later spread to the extremities. Once the breathing muscles are affected, respiratory failure can occur. The toxin is released by the Clostridium botulinum bacteria.
What are the indications?
The usual signs are based on the type of botulism.
When it comes to food-borne botulism, the indications include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea followed by abdominal distention and constipation. There is also difficulty breathing and weakness. The symptoms generally manifest between 18 -36 hours after ingestion of the contaminated food, but this can vary between 3 hours and 8 days.
For foodborne and wound botulism, the neurological signs are similar, but the signs of the wound type take some time to manifest.
In case any symptoms are present, it is best to consult a doctor for further assessment and proper treatment can be started.
Management of botulism
If botulism is suspected, treatment in a healthcare facility is required. Those who are suffering from respiratory issues are placed on a ventilator for weeks or months. After some time, the paralysis might improve.
A shot of antitoxin is administered if the condition is suspected even before the results of the diagnostic tests are available.
In case the infection is due to a wound, it requires surgery. The site around the wound is removed. Antibiotics are also given to lower the risk for any secondary infection.