Clostridium Botulinum


  • Large, obligate anaerobe, fastidious, gram (+), either in chain or occurs single, motile (peritrichous flagellation), sporeforming with spore located centrally;
  • Grow well on meat-infusion medium and in blood agar producing hemolysis of the red blood cells when incubated under anaerobic conditions;
  • Spores are easily destroyed by burning
  • Exotoxin destroyed by boiling for 10 minutes
  • Common inhabitant of the soil and intestinal tract of animals
  • Responsible for spoilage of improperly processed canned foods
  • Causes botulism


  • It is a severe/serious intoxication due to ingestion of a potent neurotoxin from inadequately sterilized canned foods.
  • Botulinin blocks the action of acetylcholine in the neuromuscular junction.
  • The patient usually dies within 3 to 7 days from respiratory or cadia failure or from infectious complications.
  • It is a rare kind of food poisoning but the mortality is very high.


  1. Food-borne botulism
    • It is an intoxication caused by the ingestion of preformed botulinin in contaminated canned foods with incubation period of 1 to 2 days.
    • The toxin is absorbed from the small intestine and carried by the blood to the motor nerves.
    • Death may occur within 24 hours due to respiratory paralysis.
  2. Infant botulism
    • It is an intoxication due to absorption of toxin within the baby’s body from dirt and dust.
    • It is caused by the in vivo production of neurotoxin colonizing the gastrointestinal tract of young infants.
    • It is common among infants less than 9 months old.
    • Muscular involvement leads to respiratory insufficiency and death.
  3. Wound botulism
    • This is the least common form of botulism which is caused by Type A botulinin.
    • Develops in vivo toxin production in infected or contaminated traumatic wounds. Incubation period ranges from 4 to 14 days.
    • Gastrointestinal symptoms are less prominent.


  1. Boil/cook home canned or preserved food for 10 minutes.
  2. Gas-containing, off-color, off-smelling, or foods from bulging cans should never be eaten or even-tasted.
  3. Regulation and inspection of commercial processing of canned and preserved foods.
  4. Maintain food in acid pH or storage at 4oC.
  5. Polyvalent toxoid for active immunization of high risk laboratory workers, at 0 to 10 weeks with booster injection after 1 year to stimulate solid immunity.


Medical care should be arranged at once. It is not possible to reverse the damage already done.

  1. Intramuscular injection of botulinus antitoxin. If administered early in its course, the patient’s chances of survival are better than after the disease is established.
  2. Adequate ventilatory support, elimination of the organisms from the gastrointestinal tract by the judicious use of gastric lavage.
  3. Penicillin therapy.
  4. Guanidine hydrochloride administration. It enhances acetylcholine release.

Daisy Jane Antipuesto RN MN

Currently a Nursing Local Board Examination Reviewer. Subjects handled are Pediatric, Obstetric and Psychiatric Nursing. Previous work experiences include: Clinical instructor/lecturer, clinical coordinator (Level II), caregiver instructor/lecturer, NC2 examination reviewer and staff/clinic nurse. Areas of specialization: Emergency room, Orthopedic Ward and Delivery Room. Also an IELTS passer.

What Do You Think?