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1. any poisoning caused by Clostridium botulinum in the body; it produces a neurotoxin called botulinum toxin.
2. specifically, a rare but severe, often fatal, form of food poisoning due to ingestion of improperly canned or preserved foods contaminated with Clostridium botulinum. Called also foodborne botulism. Symptoms include vomiting, abdominal pain, headache, weakness, constipation, and nerve paralysis (causing difficulty in seeing, breathing, and swallowing), with death from paralysis of the respiratory organs. To prevent botulism, home canning and preserving of all nonacid foods (that is, all foods other than fruits and tomatoes) must be done according to proper specific directions.
Treatment. Treatment is determined based on the type of botulism, but careful respiratory assessment and support are always required. An antitoxin to block the action of toxin circulating in the blood can be used for foodborne and wound botulism if the problem is diagnosed and treated early.
foodborne botulism botulism (def. 2).
infant botulism that affecting infants, typically 4 to 26 weeks of age, marked by constipation, lethargy, hypotonia, and feeding difficulty; it may lead to respiratory insufficiency. It results from toxin produced in the gut by ingested organisms, rather than from preformed toxins.
wound botulism a form resulting from infection of a wound with Clostridium botulinum.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.