Botulism

Exposed to a foodborne illness?

If you suspect you have been exposed to a foodborne illness, please contact the Summit County Health Department at 435-333-1511. We will begin an investigation and try to help prevent the further spread of the illness. Please visit your doctor if necessary.

We do not provide medical services.

Foodborne Illness – Botulism

Botulism is poisoning resulting from eating a toxin formed in food contaminated with the spores of a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum. These spores are widespread in the environment, but are harmless when oxygen is present. They may produce the toxin if they are in an environment that contains no oxygen, such as inside a can or jar of improperly canned food.

Symptoms

Symptoms usually start within 12 to 36 hours of eating food contaminated with Clostridium botulinum.

  • Blurred vision
  • Dry mouth
  • Paralysis of the muscles, particularly muscles that control the face, swallowing and breathing
  • Constipation
How It Is Spread
  • Clostridium botulinum spores are common in the soil and can often be found on agricultural products.
  • Poorly prepared, home canned vegetables and fruits are the most common source. Toxins are formed when foods are inadequately heated during canning.
  • Illnesses have also occurred with commercial products such as potpies, baked potatoes, garlic in oil, and sauteed onions and cured foods in airtight packaging.
  • Honey can be a source of botulism for infants because honey often contains Clostridium botulinum spores.
Diagnosis & Treatment
  • The bacteria can be cultured from the stool (feces), but diagnosis is usually made by identifying the toxin in blood, stool or suspected food.
  • Requires immediate medical attention.
Prevention
  • Follow proper home canning techniques (the time, pressure, and temperature required to destroy spores).
  • Never eat food from damaged cans (food cans with slits, holes, dents or bulges).
  • Do not feed honey or honey-water to infants under 12 months of age.

Contact Us

Environmental Health Division, Summit County Health Department

650 Round Valley Drive, Park City, Utah 84060
Phone: 435-333-1511, Fax: 435-333-1580
summitenviro@summitcounty.org

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