About Botulism

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What Is Botulism?

Botulism is a rare kind of food poisoning, but it is just as serious as common infections like salmonella or E. coli. Exactly how rare is botulism? Of the 313 million people that live in the United States, 42,000 cases of Salmonella are reported each year, and 265,000 instances of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli are documented – but only an average of 110 people contract botulism. If you or somebody you love has contracted botulism, is it important you seek medical attention and then speak with a knowledgeable botulism lawyer as soon as you are able to. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.

Botulism is food poisoning caused by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, Clostridium baratii, and Clostridium butycirum. This germ is usually found in soil and grows well in low-oxygen conditions. It can survive for long periods of time in dormant state and thrives when exposed to conditions that support their bacterial growth. The three types of botulisms include foodborne botulism (food poisoning), infant botulism (which infects an infant’s intestinal tract), and wound botulism (afflicting neglected wounds).

What Are the Symptoms of Foodborne Botulism?

There is a wide time-frame in which symptoms of food poisoning may appear. For some, symptoms can be apparent in as little as six hours, while others might not have symptoms for 10 days. They are severe and frightening, consisting of slurred speech, blurred or double vision, dry mouth, weakness, drooping eyelids, and difficulty swallowing.

The symptoms generally work from the head to the feet, affecting the head, weakening the neck, shoulders, arms, calves, etc. In addition to these devastating symptoms, the paralysis of breathing muscles can cause death. Unlike other forms of food poisoning, such as salmonella or E. coli, botulism cannot be spread from person to person. It’s the result of consuming contaminated food.

Even though botulism is rare, all individuals in the United States are at risk. The likelihood of botulism infection increases exponentially if you use drugs or eat home-canned food. The most common foods that host the bacteria are fermented fish heads and fermented sea mammals. If you have experienced any of these symptoms, a qualified botulism lawyer can help you understand what legal options are available to you, if any.

How Is Botulism Treated?

Before botulism can be treated, it must be accurately diagnosed by a physician who has thoroughly reviewed the patient’s history and conducted a complete physical examination. Even these steps may not offer enough information to make an accurate diagnosis. Brain scans may be ordered, as well as spinal fluid and nerve testing. Botulism is sometimes difficult to diagnose, especially since other diseases, such as stroke or myasthenia gravis, create similar symptoms. State health department laboratories, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, can examine samples to determine whether botulism is a possibility.

Once diagnosed, a patient suffering from breathing difficulties will be placed on a breathing machine, accompanied with medical and nursing care. An antitoxin is administered, preventing the botulism from spreading further in the bloodstream. The antitoxin prevents the worsening of symptoms and enhances the recovery process. If there is food infected with botulism remaining in the gut, healthcare providers may induce vomiting or use enemas to remove it.

Failure to treat botulism can result in death. Public awareness and medical advancements have greatly increased the likelihood of surviving botulism food poisoning. In the past fifty years, over half of all botulism cases proved fatal, though that figure recently dropped to 3-5 percent. In the event you or a loved one is sickened by botulism due to the negligence of a restaurant or food manufacturer, consult a seasoned food poisoning lawyer with a successful track record in handling cases resulting from botulism outbreaks.

How Can You Avoid Botulism?

Like other cases of food poisoning, proper hygiene and healthy habits during meal preparation can dramatically decrease the likelihood of foodborne botulism. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Boiling home-canned food for a minimum of 10 minutes prior to consumption. The heat will kill the bacteria, if any are present.
  • Keeping pressure canners and pressure cookers clean.
  • Not feeding honey to infants less than one year old.
  • Refusing to sample foods that appear spoiled, as bacteria is abundant and dangerous in rotting foods.
  • Avoiding food containers that bulge. C. botulinum creates gas, which can distort the manufactured shape of food containers.
Seek medical attention

If you have a fever over 102 degrees, bloody stool, or other severe symptoms you should seek medical attention immediately.

Legal Assistance

If you are a victim of food poisoning caused by someone else’s negligence you may be entitled to financial compensation through a food poisoning lawsuit.