With all of the recent and constant chatter about botulism, many people wonder exactly what it is and how it can be both prevented and treated. While another name for Botulism is the vague term, food poisoning, many people don’t know how the bacterium causing this illness can be contracted or prevented. While there is an abundance of information available concerning botulism, sifting through to find the sources and information most useful can be a challenge. Here is a good basic overview of botulism, and suggestions for where additional information can be found.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. They publish a very good fact sheet on “Foodborne Botulism” as part of their “Health Matters” series. The fact sheet is available online at http://www.niaid.nih.gov/factsheets/Botulism.htm and is rather recent and up-to-date, having been published in July of 2006. This article provides information about the cause, transmission, prevention and treatment of botulism, as well as risk factors and symptoms to be on the look out for.
According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, there are more than 250 different types of food borne illnesses that have been identified. These can be caused by viruses, bacteria and parasites. Botulism is caused by toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum bacteria. If left untreated, this disease can cause paralysis and, potentially, respiratory failure.
Understanding exactly what to look out for, food preparation guidelines and other details to help prevent botulism can be very difficult. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has an online informative source as well. As this is part of the Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases, it is dedicated to providing information about botulism. The information is organized in a very accessible outline style and categorized by questions and answers to those commonly-asked questions. Included is information about the bacteria, how it is diagnosed, how people are treated, and what the government and health agencies are doing to try to control and eliminate botulism occurrences.
Bacteria that develops in home canned goods is one of the leading causes of botulism. The information at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention offers solid advice for how to avoid problems with home canning and what to look for, how to prepare and cook the food, and other details to maintain safety in at home food preparation.