Botulism – a rare life threatening disease
Botulism is a rare and life-threatening condition, which is caused due to toxins that are produced by Clostridium botulinum bacteria. This disease attacks the nervous system resulting in paralysis. Even though maximum people can be recovered with proper treatment, but if the paralysis spread to the muscles, it will affect breathing.
The disease usually starts with weakness, tiredness, visual problems, speaking problems, etc. Then they are followed by weakness of chest muscles, legs, and arms. Botulism does not cause fever or affects a person’s consciousness in any way.
After exposure to the bacteria or the causing Botulism, the time taken for development of symptoms tends to vary from within some hours to many days later. Many people have initial problems like vomit, sickness, diarrhea, constipation or stomach cramps. If not treated properly then this disease eventually leads to paralysis of the entire body.
Symptoms of Botulism are as follows:
• Blurred vision
• Drooping eyelids
• Difficulty in swallowing
• Slurred speech
• Breathing problems
• Muscle weakness
The bacteria causing this problem are found in dust, soil, and sea or river sediments. These bacteria are in fact not harmful, but they tend to produce poisonous toxins in the absence of oxygen like in closed bottles, stagnant mud, etc.
There are three types of botulism:
• Food-borne botulism – this happens when people eat toxic foods due to lack of proper preservation or cooking or is improperly canned.
• Wound botulism – This occurs when a wound gets infected with this bacteria mainly due to injection of illegal drugs which are contaminated with bacteria, like heroin, into muscles.
• Infant botulism – This happens if a baby swallows these bacteria from contaminated food or soil. However with age, kids tend to develop defenses against them, but still, are not completely risk-free.
This needs to be treated in hospital. Usual treatments are neutralizing the toxin by injecting special anti-toxins and supporting the body functions like breathing until recovery. Treatments will not reverse the effects of paralysis but will stop from becoming worse.
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