More Information On Foodborne Botulism

More Information On Foodborne Botulism (Image 1)

As central Ohio faces an outbreak of botulism, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention offers more information on the illness.

Botulism is a rare but serious paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin. Foodborne botulism makes up about 15 percent of all botulism cases.

According to the CDC, there are about 145 reported cases of botulism in the United States each year.

Most often, cases of foodborne botulism is attributed to home-canned foods with low acid content. The bacteria can spread through eating improperly canned food.

RELATED ARTICLE: 1 Dead, 20 Hospitalized In Botulism Outbreak

Health officials said symptoms of botulism includes:

  • double vision
  • blurred vision
  • drooping eyelids
  • slurred speech
  • difficulty swallowing
  • dry mouth
  • muscle weakness

Infants with botulism appear lethargic, feed poorly, are constipated, and have a weak cry and poor muscle tone. 

These are all symptoms of the muscle paralysis caused by the bacterial toxin. If untreated, these symptoms may progress to cause paralysis of the respiratory muscles, arms, legs and trunk. In foodborne botulism, symptoms generally begin 18 to 36 hours after eating a contaminated food, but they can occur as early as 6 hours or as late as 10 days.

Health officials ask those who were at this event and are experiencing similar symptoms to call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department. 

Those unsure if they should seek medical attention are asked to call the Fairfield Medical Center’s emergency hotline at 740-687-8053.

The CDC reports the proportion of patients with botulism who die has fallen from 50 percent to as low as 3 percent over the last 50 years.

Those with severe cases may require breathing machines and intensive medical and nursing care — sometimes up to several years. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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