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Botulism Prevention

The only known prevention measure for infant botulism is to avoid feeding honey to infants less than 12 months of age.

While commercially canned goods are required to undergo a "botulinum cook" at 121 °C (250 °F) for 3 minutes, and so rarely cause botulism, there have been notable exceptions such as the 1978 Alaskan salmon outbreak and the 2007 Castleberry's Food Company outbreak.

Foodborne botulism has more frequently been from home-canned foods with low acid content, such as carrot juice, asparagus, green beans, beets, and corn. However, outbreaks of botulism have resulted from more unusual sources. In July, 2002, fourteen Alaskans ate ''muktuk'' (whale meat) from a beached whale, and eight of them developed symptoms of botulism, two of them requiring mechanical ventilation.

Other sources of infection include garlic or herbs stored covered in oil without acidification, chilli peppers, improperly handled baked potatoes wrapped in aluminium foil , and home-canned or fermented fish. Persons who do home canning should follow strict hygienic procedures to reduce contamination of foods. Oils infused with garlic or herbs should be refrigerated.

Potatoes which have been baked while wrapped in aluminum foil should be kept hot until served or refrigerated This can prevent patients from worsening, but recovery still takes many weeks.

Physicians may try to remove contaminated food still in the gut by inducing vomiting or by using enemas. Wounds should be treated, usually surgically, to remove the source of the toxin-producing bacteria. Good supportive care in a hospital is the mainstay of therapy for all forms of botulism.

Furthermore each case of food-borne botulism is a potential public health emergency in that it is necessary to identify the source of the outbreak and ensure that all persons who have been exposed to the toxin have been identified, and that no contaminated food remains.

There are two primary Botulinum Antitoxins available for treatment of wound and foodborne botulism. Trivalent (A,B,E) Botulinum Antitoxin is derived from equine sources utilizing whole antibodies (Fab & Fc portions). This antitoxin is available from the local health department via the CDC.

The second antitoxin is heptavalent (A,B,C,D,E,F,G) Botulinum Antitoxin which is derived from "despeciated" equine IgG antibodies which have had the Fc portion cleaved off leaving the F(ab')2 portions. This is a less immunogenic antitoxin that is effective against all known strains of botulism where not contraindicated.

This is available from the US Army. On 1 June, 2006 the US Department of Health and Human Services awarded a $363 million contract with Cangene Corporation for 200,000 doses of Heptavalent Botulinum Antitoxin over five years for delivery into the Strategic National Stockpile beginning in 2007.

Further Reading


This article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article on "Botulism" All material adapted used from Wikipedia is available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Wikipedia® itself is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Last Updated: Feb 1, 2011

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