Most outbreaks are due to faulty preservation of food, particularly in homes or cottage industries), such as canning, fermentation, curing, smoking, or acid or oil preservation.
Clostridium Botulinum and Botulism
Different types of botulism exist, but those related to ingesting the botulinum spores are foodborne botulism, infant botulism, and adult intestinal toxemia. Foodborne botulism happens when food contaminated with the botulinum toxins is swallowed and ingested. The infant botulism is when the spores get into the infant’s intestine. At this place, they grow and release the botulinum toxin. Adult intestinal toxemia is a very rare form of botulism and is similar to the infant botulism, the ingested spores also colonize the intestines and release the botulinum toxin. All kinds of botulisms present a serious health risk and could be fatal since they affect the nervous system. Hence, they are categorized as a medical emergency.
Clostridium Botulinum / Reservoirs & Transmission
Mode of transmission
Clostridium Botulinum / Symptoms
If botulism is not treated, the outcomes are lethal. The released toxin from the pathogen causes paralysis of the breathing muscles.
All people are susceptible to botulism
- Must follow all instructions for cleaning, washing, and sterilization of utensils, and items used for canning.
- Use pressure canners for low acid foods, such as potatoes, meats, and vegetables.
- Throw away refrigerated oil infused with garlic after 4 days.
- Keep baked potatoes wrapped in foil at above 140°F or 60°C until served. The leftover refrigerate.
- Refrigerate any canned food once you open it.
- Follow the recommendations of the manufacturer for proper storage of the food product including the storage temperature and shelf-life.
- Boil the food for 10 minutes could destroy the toxin. However, if you suspect the product, it is better to discard it.
- Never feed an infant (up to 2 years old) with honey. Honey may contain botulinum spores.
This information is an extract from the World Health Organization (2008). Foodborne Disease Outbreaks: Guidelines for Investigation and Control. Geneva, Switzerland, 2008