Botulism

National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

Skip to the navigation

Important
It is possible that the main title of the report Botulism is not the name you expected.

Disorder Subdivisions

  • None

General Discussion

Botulism is a rare but serious paralytic illness caused by a toxin usually produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. There are four generally recognized naturally-occurring types; foodborne, wound, infant, and, rarely, adult intestinal colonization. Iatrogenic and inhalational botulism may also occur. Foodborne botulism is caused by eating foods that contain botulinum toxin. Wound botulism occurs when C. botulinum spores germinate and produce toxin in a contaminated wound or abscess. The most common form of botulism in the United States, infant botulism, is caused when ingested C. botulinum spores colonize and subsequently produce toxin in the intestines of affected infants. In rare instances, C. botulinum intestinal colonization and toxin production have also occurred among adults with anatomical or functional bowel abnormalities. Additionally, botulism has infrequently occurred after intramuscular injection of botulinum toxin for treatment of certain dystonias and other disorders. Finally, inhalational botulism, though not naturally-occurring, was reported among three German laboratory workers who inadvertently inhaled aerosolized toxin, and could potentially occur after a deliberate aerosolization of toxin in a bioterrorism event.

Any case of foodborne or unexplained botulism is considered to be a public health emergency because of the potential for toxin-containing foods to injure others who eat them and because of the potential misuse of botulinum toxin as a biological weapon. State and local public health officials by law must be informed immediately whenever botulism is suspected in a human patient.

Supporting Organizations

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

1600 Clifton Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30333
Tel: (404)639-3534
Tel: (800)232-4636
Email: cdcinfo@cdc.gov
Website: http://www.cdc.gov/

Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center

PO Box 8126
Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8126
Tel: (301)251-4925
Fax: (301)251-4911
Tel: (888)205-2311
Website: http://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/GARD/

Infant Botulism Treatment and Prevention Program

850 Marina Bay Parkway
Room E361
Richmond, CA 94804
Tel: (510)231-7600
Email: ibtpp@infantbotulism.org
Website: http://www.infantbotulism.org

NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

NIAID Office of Communications and Government Relations
5601 Fishers Lane, MSC 9806
Bethesda, MD 20892-9806
Tel: (301)496-5717
Fax: (301)402-3573
Tel: (866)284-4107
Email: ocpostoffice@niaid.nih.gov
Website: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/

For a Complete Report

This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). For a full-text version of this report, go to www.rarediseases.org and click on Rare Disease Database under "Rare Disease Information".

The information provided in this report is not intended for diagnostic purposes. It is provided for informational purposes only.

It is possible that the title of this topic is not the name you selected. Please check the Synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and Disorder Subdivision(s) covered by this report.

This disease entry is based upon medical information available through the date at the end of the topic. Since NORD's resources are limited, it is not possible to keep every entry in the Rare Disease Database completely current and accurate. Please check with the agencies listed in the Resources section for the most current information about this disorder.

Last Updated:  7/13/2015
Copyright  2015 National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.