How dangerous is botulism?

By Susan Brewer, Ph.D., University of Illinois,
Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition

Botulism is extremely dangerous.  The toxin is a neurotoxin which interferes with nerve transmission and ultimately paralyzes the diaphragm and respiratory system.  With supportive care, the body can, with time, break down the toxin, but the mortality rate is high for those infected.  In the U.S., most cases of botulism are due to improperly home-canned foods.
USDA. “The USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning” 
FDA. 2008. Bad Bug Book. “Foodborne Pathogenic Microorganisms and Natural Toxins Handbook.” Clostridium botulinum.
Kendall, P. 2008.  “Bacterial food-borne illness.”  Cooperative Extension Service. Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO.  Fact sheet No. 9.300.


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