Botulinum toxin is one of the most lethal poisons known. This neurotoxin is produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum and other related Clostridial species; there are eight distinct toxin types: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and newly recognized type H. Toxin types A, B, E, F, and H can cause human intoxication. Botulism is characterized by a descending, bilateral paralysis that can be fatal without treatment. Botulinum spores are ubiquitous in the environment and cause three main forms of human botulism intoxication: foodborne, wound, and intestinal-toxemia form, which includes infant botulism and adult intestinal toxemia. Infant botulism, which is the most common form of botulism in the United States, results from the ingestion of botulism spores that germinate and colonize the intestinal tract producing toxin that is absorbed into the blood stream.
In 2014, 1 case of infant botulism was reported, and no foodborne or wound botulism cases were reported. The infant was an 8 week-old who presented to the hospital with symptoms including weakened cry, inability to feed, constipation, and ptosis. The infant tested positive for C. botulinum toxin type B; she received botulism immune globulin (BabyBIG) and made a full recovery. The infant was hospitalized for a total of 24 days.
From 2001-2014, 10 cases of infant botulism and 2 cases of foodborne botulism were reported in Minnesota. The median age of infants was 18 weeks (range 5 to 24 weeks). Seven infants’ illnesses were caused by botulism toxin type B and 3 were caused by toxin type A. Eight of the 8 infants with known hospitalization status were hospitalized, for a median of 16.5 days (range 9 to 30 days). The 2 foodborne botulism cases occurred in 2009 in two men consuming home-canned asparagus. The men were both hospitalized for 6 and 16 days. Their foodborne botulism was caused by toxin type A. There were no deaths among the infant or foodborne botulism cases.
- For up to date information see>> Botulism
- Full issue>> Annual Summary of Communicable Diseases Reported to the Minnesota Department of Health, 2014