Symptoms of botulism
Clostridium botulinum (C. botulinum) can cause a serious illness called foodborne botulism (caused by eating the bacteria’s toxin) and infant botulism (generally in children, caused by eating the bacteria’s spores)
Symptoms in adults
Symptoms appear within 12 to 36 hours. They include:
- double or blurred vision
- muscle weakness that progresses down from the head
- trouble speaking and swallowing.
Foodborne botulism is a rare but serious illness caused by a toxin that attacks the body’s nerves. The illness can last for weeks or months. If not treated early, botulism can lead to paralysis and death.
Symptoms in infants
In infants, symptoms include:
- poor feeding
- drooping eyelids
- face showing less expression than usual
- weak cry that sounds different than usual
- difficulty breathing.
If your child has symptoms of botulism, immediately see the doctor or take your child to a hospital emergency room.
How you can get sick
Many cases of foodborne botulism have happened after people ate home-canned, preserved, or fermented foods that were not canned (processed) correctly.
Foods with low acid content are the most common sources of home-canning related botulism cases. Examples of low-acid foods are:
- green beans
Lower-risk foods that caused botulism are fermented fish and other aquatic animals. Honey can contain the bacteria that causes infant botulism.
How to lower your risk of getting sick from botulism
- Take extra care when preparing bottled foods, vacuum-packed food (including sous vide cooking) and fermented, smoked, or salted meat and fish products that won’t be thoroughly cooked before eating.
- Use new jars and bottles that have been sterilised.
- Throw away preserved or vacuum-packed food that is badly damaged, bulging or looks spoiled.
- Do not give honey to infants under 12 months old.
- Wash your hands with soap and dry them before preparing, eating food, or feeding your child.
- Keep your kitchen and equipment clean.
- Refrigerate or freeze cooked food as soon as it has stopped steaming.
Find out more
Who to contact
If you have questions about botulism, email firstname.lastname@example.org