Overeating; allergies; nutritional deficiencies; actual poisoning by chemicals, toxic plants, or animals; toxins produced by bacteria; infestation by animal parasites; and infection by microorganisms are some of the causes of gastrointestinal disturbances caused by food ingestion. These illnesses are frequently grouped together due to their similar symptoms, which are sometimes mistaken for one another. This chapter will examine bacterial-caused foodborne illnesses.
- Typically, the phrase “food poisoning” as applied to diseases caused by microorganisms is used extremely loosely to encompass both illnesses induced by the consumption of toxins produced by the organisms and those resulting from infection of the host via the intestinal system.
- Figure depicts an additional classification of food-borne disorders. Here, all food-borne diseases are categorised as either poisonings or infections.
- Food poisoning can be caused by chemical poisoning or the intake of a harmful substance (intoxication). The toxin may occur naturally in certain plants or animals, or it may be a hazardous metabolic byproduct secreted by microorganisms.
- Therefore, bacterial food poisoning refers to foodborne illnesses induced by the presence of a bacterial toxin generated in the meal.
- A bacterial food infection refers to foodborne infections caused by the introduction of bacteria into the body via the consumption of contaminated foods and the body’s reaction to their presence or metabolites.
- According to this classification, there are two primary types of bacterial food poisoning: (1) botulism, which is caused by the presence of Clostridium botulinum toxin in food, and (2) staphylococcal intoxication, which is caused by the presence of Staphylococcus aureus toxin in food.
- The illnesses indicated in Figure fall into two categories: Pathogens such as those causing tuberculosis, diphtheria, the dysenteries, typhoid fever, brucellosis, cholera, infectious hepatitis, Q fever, etc. fall into two categories: (1) those in which the food does not normally support growth of the pathogens but merely carries them; and (2) those in which the food can serve as a culture medium for growth of the pathogens to numbers that will increase the likelihood of
- The second type of food-borne infection outbreaks are likely to be more explosive than those produced by other gut bacteria.
- Some researchers believe that Clostridium perfringens food-borne illness and Bacillus cereus gastroenteritis should be classified as food intoxications rather than food infections, as toxin may be released by B. cereus during autolysis of food cells and by C. perfringens during sporulation of food cells.
- If the toxins were introduced into the food, they would be categorised as food poisonings. However, as will be detailed in the next sections, a considerable number of live cells must be digested in both instances, implying that the toxin is released in vivo rather than in the meal.
- The contentious nature of these two foodborne disorders is acknowledged. In addition, the classification of food illnesses and food poisonings is no longer as clear as it once was. S. aureus creates an enterotoxin in food and is commonly referred to as the typical cause of food poisoning.
- Multiple gram-positive bacteria, such as S. aureus, C. perfringens, and B. cereus, can colonise the intestinal mucosa and cause persistent diarrhoea.
- Salmonella’s pathogenicity is also believed to be caused by an enterotoxin and possibly a cytotoxin.
- Consequently, these phrases should be used with caution. Table 24.1 displays the number of bacterial outbreaks and cases in the United States over a four-year period.
- These numbers likely represent only a small proportion of the actual number of outbreaks and cases that occurred during each timeframe. Due to the fact that many individuals do not seek medical attention for diarrheal disorders, health agencies and usual surveillance channels would be unaware of the incidence, and it would not be reported or tabulated.
- Salmonellosis and Clostridium perfringens gastroenteritis were responsible for the majority of outbreaks and cases.
- Despite the efforts of numerous agencies, industries, and individuals, outbreaks persist. 5 percent of outbreaks were caused by food processing facilities, although the source of the bulk of outbreaks could not be determined.
- From 1968 to 1976, food service establishments were responsible for approximately one-third of food-borne outbreaks.
- Botulism is an uncommon but deadly condition caused by a toxin that targets the nerves of the body, resulting in difficulties breathing, paralysis, and even death.
- The microorganisms Clostridium botulinum, Clostridium butyricum, and Clostridium baratii produce this toxin.
- These bacteria can create the poison in newborn intestines, food, and wounds.
- The bacteria that produce botulinum toxin are prevalent in nature, but they rarely cause illness in humans.
- These microorganisms produce spores, which serve as protective coverings. Spores aid bacteria in surviving even under harsh environmental circumstances.
- Even when the spores are ingested, they typically do not cause illness.
- Under specific conditions, however, these spores can produce one of the most dangerous toxins known.
- These circumstances allow spores to thrive and produce toxin:
- Low-oxygen or oxygen-free (anaerobic) atmosphere.
- Low in acidity
- Low sugar.
- Low salt.
- A certain range of temperatures.
- A specific quantity of water.
The consumption of food containing the neurotoxin generated by Clostridium botulinum causes botulism. This rod-shaped soil bacterium is anaerobic, saprophytic, spore-forming, and gas-forming. On the basis of the serological specificity of their toxins, seven types are distinguished; the primary (or only) toxin from each type is denoted with the same capital letter.
- Type A: In the western region of the United States, type A botulism is the most frequent. It’s more dangerous than type B.
- Type B: Type B is more prevalent than type A in the majority of the world’s soils and is less harmful to humans.
- Type C: As far as is known, type C causes botulism in poultry, cattle, mink, and other animals but not in humans.
- Type D: Type D is connected with fodder poisoning in the Union of South Africa’s cattle population.
- Type E: Type E, which is hazardous to humans, is primarily derived from fish and fish products.
- Type F: Type F, which is similar to types A and B except for its toxin, has been identified in Denmark and causes human botulism.
- Type G: In Argentina, Type G has been isolated from the soil, but it has not been linked to human botulism.
Not all species produce the same poison. Some type C strains, for instance, produce primarily C1 toxin with minor levels of D and C2 or just C2 toxin. Strains of type D produce primarily D toxin with smaller levels of C1 and C2 toxins. Type A strains and the majority of type B cultures are proteolytic and putrefactive enough to impart an offensive odour to protein-rich foods, whereas type B strains and type E strains are not. Even the first two categories fail to create obvious putrefaction symptoms in low-protein foods like string beans and corn, while producing toxins. The organism ferments carbohydrates with the generation of gas, but this is not always apparent.
Types of Strains
Separating the various strains of C. botulinum based simply on toxin types yields extremely varied groups. C. botulinum strains are typically grouped into three broad categories based on their cultural and physiological characteristics:
- Group I: Group I contains all proteolytic strains of type A, as well as proteolytic strains of types B and F.
- Group II: Group II consists of all nonproteolytic type E strains and nonproteolytic strains of B and F.
- Group Ill: Group Ill consists of kinds C and D, which are nonproteolytic and share a similar metabolic mechanism.
Growth and Toxin Production
- Toxin generation by C. botulinum is dependent on the ability of the cells to proliferate and autolyze in food, since the types A, B, E, and F toxins appear to be generated as big, relatively inactive proteins that become completely toxic upon hydrolysis.
- The parameters that govern spore germination, proliferation, and hence toxin generation are therefore of particular importance.
- These parameters include the composition of the food or medium, particularly its nutritional characteristics (e.g., glucose or maltose are known to be required for toxin formation), the meal’s moisture content, pH, O-R potential, and salt level, as well as its storage temperature and duration.
- The mix of these components determines whether growth is possible, as well as its rate and magnitude.
- Thus, the nutritional qualities of the diet will likely influence the minimum pH or temperature and maximum sodium chloride concentration for growth and toxin generation.
- Results will vary depending on the serological type of the organism and the specific strain. Although it is recognised that foods serve as different culture media for C. botulinum, the majority of the evidence is empirical.
- The majority of studies have focused on the generation of toxins in diverse foods. Meats, seafood, and low- or medium-acid canned foods have been proven to stimulate toxin formation, with varying degrees of toxicity.
- Even on good culture media, the relative strength of the toxin produced can vary. It has been claimed that media containing milk or casein, glucose or maltose, and corn-steep liquor produce more potent type A toxin than other media, and that the potencies of toxin from the following canned foods are, in descending order: corn>peas>string beans>spinach.
- It has been demonstrated that dissolved tin from cans inhibits the growth and synthesis of toxins in canned vegetables. Experiments on dehydrated meat revealed that toxin was formed more slowly when the moisture percentage was 40% than when it was 60%, and that reducing the moisture content to 30% inhibited the production of toxin.
- The sodium chloride amounts required to limit growth and toxin formation in foods are dependent on the food’s composition and temperature.
- The addition of sodium nitrate in sausage or disodium phosphate in cheese spread decreases the amount of sodium chloride required to avoid the development of toxins.
- At a greater temperature, such as 37 C, more salt is required than at a lower temperature, such as 15 C. In growth-favorable conditions, eight percent of salt or more is required to suppress C. botulinum.
- A pH close to neutral is favourable to C. botulinum. The minimum pH required for growth and toxin generation varies on the type of diet and temperature.
- A pH of 4.5 or lower prevents toxin generation in the majority of meals, although the pH required for spore germination is significantly greater.
- In a veal infusion broth, the lowest pH values documented are 4.87 for vegetative cells and 5.01 for spore germination, 4.8 to 5.0 for bread, and 4.8 for pineapple-rice pudding.
- A pH of 8.89 was determined to be optimal for plant growth. C. botulinum has been discovered thriving and manufacturing toxin in foods that are ordinarily too acidic for it, while other microbes were also growing in the food and likely raised the pH locally or globally.
- There have been outbreaks of botulism linked to improperly heat-treated canned high-acid foods (pH less than 4.5), such as tomatoes, tomato juice, and blackberries.
- Possible explanations for these outbreaks include (1) the growth of other organisms that could raise the pH of a food so that C. botulinum could grow, (2) the growth of C. botulinum followed by the growth of other organisms that lowered the pH of a food that originally had a pH greater than 4.5, and (3) the variation or stratification of the pH in an acidulated product to allow for the growth of C. botulinum.
- Tanaka (1982) reported that toxin formation occurs in environments with a pH below 4.6. Temperature is a crucial element in deciding whether toxin production will occur and at what rate it will occur.
- Vegetative growth will occur at temperatures below the minimum required for spore germination. Different kinds A and B strains of C. botulinum have varying temperature needs.
- A few strains have been reported to be able to thrive at 10 to 11 degrees Celsius, however it has been stated that 15 degrees Celsius is the lowest temperature at which spores may germinate.
- Maximum growth temperature is around 48 degrees Celsius for these types and 45 degrees Celsius for type E. At temperatures as low as 3.3 °C, organisms of type E create gas and poison in 31 to 45 days.
- The best temperature for toxin synthesis and proliferation of proteolytic strains is approximately 35 degrees Celsius, while the optimal temperature for nonproteolytic strains is typically stated as 26 to 28 degrees Celsius.
- Clearly, the slower the rate of toxin synthesis, the longer it will take to accumulate sufficient quantities.
- The connections between pH, O-R, and temperature in relation to growth and toxin generation have recently been the subject of intriguing research.
- The pure and crystallised protein toxin of C. botulinum is so lethal that only a minute amount is required to cause death.
- It is primarily absorbed in the small intestine and paralyses the body’s involuntary muscles. Its relative thermolability is an essential property.
- The heat treatment required to eliminate a toxin depends on the organism producing the toxin and the heating medium.
- To deactivate type A toxin in the laboratory, heat treatments of 5 to 6 minutes at 80 degrees Celsius and 15 minutes at 90 degrees Celsius are required.
- This should not be interpreted as evidence that thoroughly boiling a highly questionable product is a worthy risk.
- As noted previously, the growth of C. botulinum in certain foods results in a stench so vile and rancid that the item is rejected.
- Meats and protein-rich, low-acid vegetables emit a particularly offensive stench. More acidic foods and those deficient in protein, on the other hand, may become just as poisonous without much putrefaction evidence.
- In addition, the nonproteolytic strains of C. botulinum exhibit less signs of spoiling than the proteolytic variants. In addition, gas generation is not always detectable and is therefore not a reliable indicator of spoiling caused by this bacterium.
- Certainly, it is prudent to discard any raw or canned food that exhibits signs of deterioration, as well as any canned food that exhibits pressure within the container.
- Gamma rays can destroy the toxin in cheese at 7.3 Mrad and in soup at 4.9 Mrad. It is known that the toxin persists in foods for extended durations, especially when stored at low temperatures.
- It is unstable at pH levels greater than 6.8. The nonproteolytic strains create toxins that are not completely activated, and the addition of trypsin will increase their maximum toxicity potential.
- As previously stated, the seven toxins (A to G) are antigenic, resulting in the generation of antitoxin specific to the injected toxin type.
- Some forms of toxoids have been developed for the active vaccination of researchers who may be exposed to the botulinum toxin by mistake.
Toxicity and Bacteriophages
- It is fairly uncommon to isolate nontoxigenic colonies of C. botulinum from a known toxigenic strain.
- Recent research on the relationship between toxigenicity (the ability to produce the toxin) and temperate bacteriophages (intracellular, integrated phage nucleic acid) suggests that the bacterial genome may not be responsible for the production of the toxin, but that the genome of an incorporated temperate bacteriophage may be.
- This might explain why some strains occasionally lose their toxigenicity. Types C and D can be “cured” of their temperate bacteriophage and rendered nontoxigenic by experimentation.
- Even if types A, B, and F have been “cured” of bacteriophages, they remain toxic.
- There are apparently bacteriophages for C. botulinum that induce toxogenesis. Also, a single strain may carry many temperate bacteriophages (multiple infection), which may explain why, as indicated previously, some strains produce more than one type of toxin.
Heat Resistance of Spores
- In comparison to the spores of the vast majority of other Clostridium species, the spores of certain putrefactive anaerobes, notably C. botulinum, are rather resistant to heat.
- The heat treatment necessary to eliminate all spores in a food depends on the type of food, the type and strain of C. botulinum, the medium in which the spores were generated, the temperature at which they were formed, their age, and the amount of spores present.
- For a study of the elements that affect the heat resistance of spores, the reader should turn to Chapter 6.
- Esty and Meyer (1922) suggested the following heat treatments to eliminate all C. botulinum spores in food:
- In general, the spores of types C, D, and E organisms are less heat-resistant than those of types A and B, with type E spores inactivated in 15 minutes at 80 degrees Celsius.
- Types A and B spores have D12IC values of 0.21 minutes, whereas type E spores have D100C values between 0.003 and 0.017 minutes.
- Comparing type C spores has revealed that marine strains are more resistant to heat than terrestrial strains (D104C of 0.4 to 0.9 min for the former and D104C of 0.02 to 0.08 for the latter).
Distribution of Spores
- The soil is assumed to be C. botulinum’s habitat, as spores have been discovered in both cultivated and uncultivated soils around the world.
- Tests indicate that type A spores are more prevalent in the western soils of this country than type B spores.
- After consuming such plants, the soil, intestinal contents, and therefore dung of animals may contaminate plant crops.
- Spores of type E are found in soil, sea and lake mud, and in the intestinal tracts of fish.
Incidence of Botulism
- Fortunately, botulism is uncommon, but due to its high fatality rate, it always deserves considerable attention.
- The rate of case fatalities has decreased. For example, between 1970 and 1973, the case fatality rate in the United States was approximately 23 percent, whereas between 1899 and 1949, it exceeded 60 percent.
- 23.1 percent of the 688 botulism outbreaks reported between 1899 and 1973 were caused by type A, 6.3% by type B, and 3.2% by type E.
- In 67.3 percent of outbreaks, the kind could not be determined. In recent years, the proportion of outbreaks for which the type is unknown has declined; for example, between 1970 and 1973, just 19.0 percent of outbreaks were untyped.
Conditions Necessary for an Outbreak
The following conditions are required for a botulism outbreak:
- The presence of spores of C. botulinum types A, B, or E in food that has been canned or otherwise processed.
- Food that allows spores to germinate and clostridia to proliferate and create poison.
- Survival of the organism’s spores, for example, as a result of insufficient heating during canning or inadequate processing otherwise.
- After processing, the environment must be conducive to spore germination, growth, and toxin generation by the organism.
- Insufficient heating of the food to render the poison inactive.
- ingesting the food containing the poison.
Prevention of Outbreaks
- Among the procedures and precautions for preventing botulism listed in the preceding section is the use of approved heat processes for canning goods.
- All canned goods that are gassy or otherwise deteriorated must be rejected.
- unwillingness even to taste a questionable food.
- Avoiding foods that have been cooked, stored, and improperly reheated.
- At least 15 minutes of boiling a suspected food product is required. Avoiding uncooked or precooked items that have been frozen, thawed, and stored at room temperature could be included to this list.
- To prevent botulism from smoked fish, it has been suggested that (1) good sanitation be maintained throughout production and handling, (2) the fish be heated to at least 82 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes in the coldest part during smoking or after smoking, (3) the fish be frozen immediately after packaging and kept frozen, and (4) all packages be labelled “Perishable-Keep Frozen.”
Types of Botulism
The five most common types of botulism are:
- Infant botulism: Infant botulism can occur if the bacteria’s spores enter an infant’s intestines. The spores multiply and generate the disease-causing toxin.
- Wound botulism: Botulism of the wound can occur when spores of the bacteria enter a wound and produce a toxin. People who inject narcotics are more likely to contract wound botulism. Botulism has also occurred in patients with traumatic wounds, such as those sustained in a motorbike accident or during surgery.
- Foodborne botulism: Consuming foods infected with botulinum toxin can cause botulism that is transmitted via the food chain. Homemade foods that have been inadequately canned, preserved, or fermented are common botulinum vectors. Although rare, botulinum toxin contamination of store-bought goods is also possible.
- Iatrogenic botulism: Iatrogenic botulism can occur when excessive botulinum toxin is injected for aesthetic or medicinal purposes, such as to treat wrinkles or migraine headaches.
- Adult intestinal toxaemia: Adult intestinal toxaemia (also known as adult intestinal colonisation) botulism is a relatively rare form of botulism that occurs when spores of the bacterium enter the intestines of an adult, multiply, and generate the toxin (similar to infant botulism). Although we don’t know why people acquire this sort of botulism, persons who have major health disorders that damage the stomach may be more likely to get sick.
Symptoms of Botulism
Among the possible signs and symptoms is
- difficulty swallowing.
- musculoskeletal weakness
- Double vision.
- Drooping eyelids.
- fuzzy vision
- Fluctuating speech
- Breathing difficulties
- It is difficult to move the eyes.
Signs and symptoms in an infant might include:
- Poor feeding.
- Drooping eyelids.
- Slowly responding pupils to light.
- Face expressing less emotion than usual.
- A weak cry that sounds distinct from the norm.
- Breathing difficulties
All of the symptoms originate from the toxin-induced paralysis of the muscles. If left untreated, the condition may advance and symptoms may deteriorate to the point where some muscles, particularly those required for breathing and those in the arms, legs, and trunk, become completely paralysed (part of the body from the neck to the pelvis area, also called the torso).
Symptoms of foodborne botulism often appear between 18 and 36 hours after consuming a contaminated product.
Detection of Botulism Food Poisoning
- By injecting the poison into a mouse and measuring its toxicity, the bioassay is the most sensitive and extensively used method.
- Injected mice show symptoms within four hours.
- The botulinum toxin is characterised by abdominal tremors, an abdomen in the shape of a wasp, paralysis of the limbs, and breathing difficulties.
- ELISA is the most sensitive immunoassay used to detect botulinum toxin.
- ELISA binds the antigen (toxin) present on the solid surface to the antibody (antitoxin).
- The amount of toxin can then be measured by an enzymatic response after a second enzyme-labeled antibody attaches to the antigen.
- The quality of the antiserum employed determines the specificity and sensitivity of ELISA.
3. Endopeptidase assay
- Endopeptidase assay is an in-vitro assay used to determine the therapeutic potential of a toxin. (Botox, Dysport, Xeomin, etc.)
- Bioluminescence, fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET), and mass spectrometry are used to measure it.
- As it identifies only active botulinum toxins, the endopeptidase test is more reliable than immunoassays.
4. PCR-based assays
- Using a primer with a high annealing temperature and agarose gel electrophoresis, traditional multiplex PCR detects the toxin gene. It can identify types A, B, E, and F toxins.
- Real-time PCR is able to identify BoNT A, B, and E.
- Within 1 to 2 hours, fluorescence-based PCR amplifies gene fragments and detects the toxin with excellent sensitivity.
Treatment of Botulism
- Botulism is caused by a toxin that targets the nerves of the body, resulting in difficulties breathing, paralysis, and even death.
- Antitoxins are used to treat botulism, as they prevent the toxin from causing further damage.
- Antitoxin does not repair the damage already caused by the toxin. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may need to spend weeks or even months in the hospital before you are healthy enough to return home.
- If your illness is severe, you may experience breathing difficulties. If the poison paralyses the muscles responsible for breathing, you may potentially experience respiratory failure.
- If this occurs, your doctor may place you on a ventilator until you can breathe on your own.
- Toxin-induced paralysis typically improves slowly. The purpose of the medical and nursing care you get in the hospital is to facilitate your recovery.
- Botulism of the wound may necessitate surgery to remove the source of the germs, as well as the administration of medications.
As a result of the discovery of antitoxin and modern medical care, the mortality rate among botulism patients is far lower than it was in the past, when approximately 50 out of every 100 patients died. Today, less than 5 out of every 100 botulism patients die.
Even with antitoxin and intense medical and nursing care, some botulism patients succumb to respiratory failure. Others perish from infections or other complications resulting from weeks or months of paralysis.
Patients who survive botulism may experience chronic weariness and shortness of breath for years and may require long-term therapy to recover.
Prevention of Botulism
Many cases of foodborne botulism have resulted from the consumption of tainted home-canned, preserved, or fermented foods. The food could have become infected if it had not been properly canned (processed).
Low-acid foods are the most common source of botulism cases associated to home canning. Examples of foods low in acid include:
- Green beans
The identification of new sources of foodborne botulism continues. When food is incorrectly handled during its preparation, storage, or consumption, it might get contaminated. The following foods are examples of contaminated foods:
- Garlic minced with oil.
- Cheese sauce from a can
- Tomatoes in cans
- Carrot juice.
- Potatoes baked and wrapped in foil.
If you preserve, can, or ferment your own foods, you can limit the risk of botulism by taking the following precautions:
- In the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends safe home canning procedures.
- Following all washing, cleaning, and sterilising instructions for canning equipment.
- Utilizing pressure canners for low-acid items such as potatoes, the vast majority of other vegetables, and meats.
Everyone can lower their risk of contracting botulism by:
- Keeping handmade oils infused with garlic or herbs refrigerated and discarding any unused oils after four days.
- Keeping baked potatoes wrapped in aluminium foil hot (at temperatures above 140°F) until they are served, or refrigerating them with the foil loosened.
- After opening canned or pickled items, refrigerate them.
Keep wounds clean to prevent wound botulism. If wounds appear infected, seek immediate medical attention. If a wound meets the following criteria, it may be infected:
- Warm to the touch
- Full of pus or other drainage
- Accompanied by fever
Not all botulism-infected wounds exhibit these common signs of a wound infection. If you have a wound and develop botulism symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
Botulism is more prevalent among those who inject illicit drugs, such as black tar heroin, than among those who do not inject drugs. Individuals who contract botulism from injecting illegal narcotics may not have a visibly diseased injection site. Learn more about how to prevent drug-induced wound botulism.
Botulism can occur after traumatic injuries, including motorcycle accidents and surgery. Be vigilant for symptoms of infection.
- The bacteria that cause baby botulism cannot be prevented in the majority of instances because they are found in soil and dust.
- Even after cleaning, the bacteria can be found on floors, carpet, and worktops.
- Ingestion of botulinum spores is not dangerous and will not cause botulism in almost all healthy children and adults (the toxin is dangerous).
- Some infants develop botulism for unknown causes when spores enter their digestive tracts, proliferate, and create the toxin.
- Honey may contain the bacteria that causes infant botulism; therefore, children younger than 12 months should not consume honey. Honey is safe for those 1 years and older.
You can prevent iatrogenic (an illness induced by medical examination or treatment) botulism by having injections of botulinum toxin exclusively by qualified practitioners:
- If you require a botulinum toxin injection for a medical issue, your physician will select the safest dose.
- Botulinum toxin injections for cosmetic purposes should only be administered by licenced professionals.
Adult intestinal colonization
- Adult intestinal colonisation, commonly known as adult intestinal toxaemia, is an extremely uncommon form of botulism.
- People with health disorders that alter the structure or function of their intestines (gut) may be at increased risk.
- Few patients have been diagnosed with adult intestinal toxaemia, and experts do not fully comprehend how this form of botulism develops. It may be comparable to newborn botulism, which is incurable.
Injection Drug Use and Wound Botulism
Botulism, a potentially fatal condition, poses a concern to individuals who inject illegal substances. If you inject illicit narcotics, especially black tar heroin, under your skin (“skin popping”) or into your muscle (“muscle popping” or “muscling”), your risk of developing wound botulism increases.
Botulism of the wound is an uncommon but deadly sickness that occurs when the bacterium Clostridium botulinum enters a wound and produces a toxin. This toxin assaults your body’s nerves, causing difficulty breathing, muscle weakness, and even death. If you develop wound botulism, you will require antitoxin. The antitoxin can prevent the toxin from inflicting further injury, but it cannot reverse the damage that has already occurred. Even after getting antitoxin, you may have to remain hospitalised for weeks or even months before you can return home.
What to Watch For
Botulism of the wound typically manifests several days following injection of contaminated medications, as opposed to immediately. It takes several days or even a couple of weeks for the germs to multiply and produce the toxin within the body.
Some of the possible symptoms include
- double vision.
- Vision impaired
- Drooping eyelids.
- Fluctuating speech
- Swallowing difficulties
- A tongue with a sensation of thickness.
- The mouth is dry.
- musculoskeletal weakness
As the condition worsens, you may acquire additional symptoms, such as:
- breathing difficulties.
Botulism can occur even if the injection site does not appear infected.
Some symptoms of wound botulism resemble those of opioid overdose, including slurred speech or inability to speak, weakness, and difficulty breathing. Opioids include heroin and painkillers such as oxycodone (“OxyContin”), oxymorphone (“Opana”), hydrocodone (as in Vicodin), and hydromorphone (“Dilaudid”).
If administered in time, Naloxone, widely known as Narcan®, can reverse the consequences of an opioid overdose, but it cannot reverse the symptoms of botulism. Immediately visit a doctor or the emergency department if you or someone you know receives Naloxone treatment for botulism but continues to exhibit symptoms.
When seeking medical care, be straightforward and honest with your providers. Describe the medications you have taken within the past two weeks and how you utilised them. It is easy to confuse wound botulism with other, more prevalent infections. Your doctor must know if you inject drugs in order to rapidly and accurately diagnose and treat you.
How injecting heroin can give you botulism?
In the United States, around twenty persons are diagnosed with wound botulism each year. Most obtain heroin by skin popping or muscle popping. We do not know how black tar heroin becomes infected with the botulism-causing bacterium. Due to the fact that the bacterium resides in soil, it is possible for it to contaminate heroin during production, transportation, cutting, mixing, preparation for use, or other processes. The drug-use equipment (“works”) used to prepare or inject contaminated medicines may also transmit the botulism germs to anyone uses it.
- The botulism-causing microbe is invisible. There is no visual distinction between tainted and non-contaminated medications. The only way to determine if your medications are infected with the botulism-causing bacterium is through laboratory testing.
- The botulism bacterium is not eliminated by heating (or “cooking”) heroin. It takes specific conditions to eradicate this pathogen.
- You cannot contract botulism from another individual. It’s not infectious. But if you and another person share contaminated heroin or equipment (“works”), you could both contract botulism.