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Botulism Essay

1153 words - 5 pages

Random Facts:Botulism is a virulent form of food poisoning; the toxin is so potent that just half a pound (225 grams) could kill everyone in the world.There are usually fewer than 20 cases in Canada a year ('Fatality rate of C. botulinum cases in Canada is as low as five to ten per cent' (Canadian Food Inspection Agency)The number of yearly cases has dropped to about 1,000 worldwide (Medicine Net)The neurotoxin botulinum has been used as a murder weapon; people have attempted to kill or seriously harm other individuals. (Medicine Net)Many people inject a dilute form of this poisonous toxin to reduce or stop wrinkles in the skin, known as 'botox'. Wrinkles are caused by repeated normal muscle contractions, if there are no contractions, there will also be no wrinkles! (Medicine Net)Mouse Inoculation TestA blood or stool sample from a patient is inserted into the peritoneal cavity of mice. An equal amount of sample is treated with the botulinum antitoxin and is injected into a different mouse. If the mouse that had the untreated sample dies and the mouse with the sample treated with antitoxin lives, then the test is positive for botulism. (Medicine Net)Bacterial CausationBotulism is caused by the Clostridium botulinum bacteria. This strain of bacteria is anaerobic and so forms spores when it is in an aerobic environment. By creating spores, the bacteria go into a resting phase and are able to survive through unfavourable conditions such as extreme hot or cold temperatures, radiation, or in this case the presence of oxygen. The spores of this bacterium are able to survive boiling and are only eliminated by cooking the food in a pressure cooker at 120 °C for fifteen minutes. The spores themselves are not harmful; when they start to germinate they begin to cause disease. As the bacteria multiply the toxin is released and can cause death.What is it?Botulism is a very rare and deadly form of food poisoning. It is caused by a poison called botulinum toxin which is created by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum. This bacterium is anaerobic which means it is only able to grow well and produce the toxin in the complete absence of oxygen. For this reason, canned and bottled foods, foods sealed in airtight packs and preserved meats are excellent breeding grounds for this bacterium. If the bacterial spores survive and are able to germinate they begin producing the botulinum toxin that affects the brain and nervous system causing paralysis.There are three types of botulism: food borne, infant and wound botulism. When food contaminated with the neurotoxin from these bacteria is eaten, food borne botulism occurs. Infant botulism occurs in infants that ingest the bacterial spores and therefore have the bacteria in their intestines which release the poison. If wounds are exposed to the bacteria and they get infected with the botulinum toxin, wound botulism occurs. (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention)SymptomsThe neurotoxin paralyzes the nerves...

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