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Botulism

Botulism is a potentially fatal paralytic illness caused by a highly potent toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. The word botulism originates from the Latin botulus, meaning sausage, a reference to the historical association of this illness with home-fermented sausages in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. Botulism occurs in five forms: (1) foodborne, (2) infant, (3) wound, (4) adult intestinal toxemia, and (5) iatrogenic. The most relevant is foodborne botulism, a serious type of food poisoning caused by ingesting foods contaminated with botulinum toxin. In the United States, inadequately sterilized low-acid canned foods such as string beans were frequent sources of botulism. Although foodborne botulism now occurs relatively infrequently, it is considered to pose a serious public health threat; a centralized food ...

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