After two different botulism outbreaks took the country by surprise, people are starting to focus their attention on the deadly, yet elusive disease. Usually, the condition affects around 150 individuals each year, most victims being children with an undeveloped immune system that is unable to stave off the infection. However, from time to time, due to improperly stored food, an outbreak occurs, planting fear in the hearts of many.
What Is Botulism?
Botulism is a paralyzing nerve toxin. It is currently considered one of the most dangerous and potent substances in the world. The disease is caused by the Clostridium baratii or the Clostridium butyricum. The bacteria usually thrives in ocean-like environments, thriving in low oxygenating enclosures such as pickle jars or the intestinal tract.
People infected with the Clostridium bacteria usually begin showing symptoms 12 to 16 hours after ingesting the tainted food. Common symptoms include:
- Dry mouth;
- Difficulty swallowing;
- Slurred speech;
- Facial weakness;
- Double or blurred vision;
- Drooping eyelids;
- Abdominal cramps;
- Trouble breathing;
Of course, no two patients experience the same symptoms. In some cases, even doctors can misdiagnose the early stages of botulism as food poisoning. During its more advanced stages, botulism can be mistaken for a stroke or the late onset of Lyme disease. That is why it is important to tell doctors everything you ate. Don’t leave anything out, not even a pickled jalapeno.
Best Way to Avoid Contracting the Disease
The best way to avoid contracting the disease is always to eat fresh food. Avoid pickled or canned goods, especially if the containers show signs of damage. Moreover, be sure to keep all canned or pickled food in a cool environment, away from direct heat or sunlight.
In case you feel any of the symptoms mentioned above, seek immediate medical attention as the sooner you receive treatment, the more your chances of complete recovery increase.
Image Source: Flickr