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Botulism is a rare but very serious type of food poisoning caused
by toxins produced by bacteria (Clostridium botulinum)
that are commonly found in soil. Botulism is often caused by food that is not
home-canned properly, such as home-canned beans and corn.
In children younger than 1 year, botulism may be caused by bacteria
found in raw (unpasteurized) honey or corn syrup. An adult's digestive system
can defend against the bacteria in these foods, but an infant's digestive
system cannot. Newborns and infants should not be given raw honey or corn
Symptoms of botulism usually begin 12 to 36 hours after the person
eats contaminated food. Symptoms include blurred or double vision, muscle
weakness, fatigue, dizziness, and headache. The person may also have nausea,
vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. The most noticeable symptoms in
children include double vision, irritability, and muscle weakness. Some
children may have vomiting, constipation, inability to pass urine (urinary
retention), and a dry mouth.
Botulism is potentially fatal and requires immediate medical care. People who have botulism will often be
admitted to a hospital for treatment.
October 18, 2012
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease
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