Finegold, Sydney M. Infectious Disease Section, Veterans Administration Wadsworth Hospital Center, Los Angeles, California.
Last reviewed:September 2019
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An illness produced by the exotoxin of Clostridium botulinum and occasionally other bacterial members of the genus Clostridium, and characterized by paralysis and other neurological abnormalities. Botulism is a serious (though rare) condition caused by toxins produced by Clostridium bacteria, most notably Clostridium botulinum (see illustration). The bacteria responsible for botulism are spread primarily by food and occasionally by other means. There are seven principal toxin types (A through G) involved in botulism. Types A, B, E, and F have been implicated in human disease, whereas types C and D produce illness in birds and nonhuman mammals. Strains of C. baratii and C. butyricum have been found to produce toxins E and F and have been implicated in infant botulism. There is serologic cross-reactivity between C. botulinum and C. sporogenes and C. novyi. Botulinal toxin is among the most potent poisons known. See also: Anaerobic infection; Bacteria; Bacteriology; Clostridium; Food; Food poisoning; Foodborne disease; Infectious disease; Medical bacteriology; Poison; Toxin; Virulence
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