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Clostridium botulinum
stain of botulism
Botulism is a rare but serious paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin that is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. There are three main kinds of botulism. Foodborne botulism is caused by eating foods that contain the botulism toxin. Wound botulism is caused by toxin produced from a wound infected with Clostridium botulinum. Infant botulism is caused by consuming the spores of the botulinum bacteria, which then grow in the intestines and release toxin. All forms of botulism can be fatal and are considered medical emergencies. Foodborne botulism can be especially dangerous because many people can be poisoned by eating a contaminated food.
19 Dec 05

Sample Q&A: The Disease

What is Clostridium botulinum?
Clostridium botulinum is the name of a group of bacteria commonly found in soil. These organisms grow best in low oxygen conditions. The bacteria form spores that allow them to survive in a dormant (inactive) state until exposed to conditions that support their growth. There are seven types of botulism toxin, designated by the letters A through G. Only types A, B, E and F routinely cause illness in humans.