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Botulism is a rare but serious illness caused by a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum, which occurs in soil. It produces a toxin that affects your nerves. There are three kinds of botulism. Foodborne botulism comes from eating foods contaminated with the toxin. Wounds infected with toxin-producing bacteria result in wound botulism. Infant botulism is caused by consuming the spores of the bacteria, usually from honey. All three forms can be deadly and are medical emergencies.

Symptoms include double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth and muscle weakness. Treatment may include antitoxins, intensive medical care or surgery of infected wounds.

To prevent botulism:

  • Be very careful when canning foods at home
  • Do not let babies eat honey
  • Get prompt medical care for infected wounds

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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