Clin Infect Dis. 2005 Oct 15;41(8):1167-73. doi: 10.1086/444507. Epub 2005 Aug 29.


Botulism is a rare disease with 4 naturally occurring syndromes: foodborne botulism is caused by ingestion of foods contaminated with botulinum toxin, wound botulism is caused by Clostridium botulinum colonization of a wound and in situ toxin production, infant botulism is caused by intestinal colonization and toxin production, and adult intestinal toxemia botulism is an even rarer form of intestinal colonization and toxin production in adults. Inhalational botulism could result from aerosolization of botulinum toxin, and iatrogenic botulism can result from injection of toxin. All forms of botulism produce the same distinct clinical syndrome of symmetrical cranial nerve palsies followed by descending, symmetric flaccid paralysis of voluntary muscles, which may progress to respiratory compromise and death. The mainstays of therapy are meticulous intensive care (including mechanical ventilation, when necessary) and timely treatment with antitoxin.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Botulinum Antitoxin / therapeutic use
  • Botulism / diagnosis*
  • Botulism / therapy*
  • Clostridium botulinum / metabolism
  • Critical Care
  • Food Microbiology
  • Humans


  • Botulinum Antitoxin