Botulism is a rare but serious illness caused by a toxin that attacks the body’s nerves.
Symptoms of botulism usually start with weakness of the muscles that control the eyes, face, mouth, and throat. This weakness may spread to the neck, arms, torso, and legs. Botulism also can weaken the muscles involved in breathing, which can lead to difficulty breathing and even death.
If you or someone you know has symptoms of botulism, see your doctor or go to the emergency room immediately.
We don’t know how most babies with infant botulism came into contact with C. botulinum spores, but we do know that these spores can be found in honey. Do not feed honey to children younger than 12 months because it has been linked to some cases of infant botulism.
ALERT: Several babies in Texas have become ill with infant botulism after using honey pacifiers. Find out more from FDA.gov >
Foodborne botulism is often caused by eating home-canned foods that have not been canned properly. Commercially canned foods are much less likely to be a source of botulism because modern commercial canning processes kill C. botulinum spores.
Foodborne botulism can be caused by a food that is not prepared or stored properly. In Alaska, foodborne botulism is often caused by traditional Alaska Native foods, including fermented fish, because of the way these foods are sometimes prepared or stored.
Sometimes a wound can get infected with C. botulinum. The most common way this happens is when a contaminated illicit drug, such as black tar heroin, is injected into muscle or skin. Wound botulism also has been reported following traumatic injuries, such as motorcycle crashes and surgeries.
Get in-depth information on botulism and resources for diagnosing and caring for patients with botulism.
CDC offers laboratory confirmation of botulism by testing human specimens and foods.