On the discovery of Clostridium botulinum

J Hist Neurosci. 1999 Apr;8(1):43-50. doi: 10.1076/jhin.


A description is given of a food intoxication in 1895 at Ellezelles, a village in Belgium. As a result 3 persons died within a few days and others became seriously ill. A thorough investigation by E. van Ermengem led to the discovery of Clostridium botulinum and botulinum toxin. About 75 years later a subtype of the toxin proved to be highly effective in the treatment of dystonias and is now widely used.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article
  • Portrait

MeSH terms

  • Belgium
  • Botulinum Toxins / history*
  • Disease Outbreaks / history*
  • Dystonia / history*
  • Foodborne Diseases / history*
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans


  • Botulinum Toxins

Personal name as subject

  • E P Van Ermengem