CDC and Food Safety Newsletter

Updated May 27, 2021

CDC Publishes First Comprehensive Clinical Guidelines for Diagnosis and Treatment of Botulism

Two doctors with patients in the background

Botulism is serious illness caused by a toxin that attacks nerves and causes muscle paralysis, difficulty breathing, and even death. Foodborne botulism is one of the five main kinds of botulism. This month, CDC published the first comprehensive clinical care guidelines for botulism in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

CDC developed the guidelines through a multiyear process involving extensive expert input and six systematic reviews of 100 years of scientific literature.

The guidelines provide:

  • Recommended best practices for diagnosing, treating, and monitoring people with botulism
  • Special considerations for infants, children, and pregnant or breastfeeding patients
  • Suggestions for supportive care, including psychosocial support for patients and family members

The guidelines are intended for the treatment of one or many patients, and they would be especially useful during an outbreak in which resources, such as ventilators, medical staff, and antitoxin, might be in short supply.

Other new resources for treating patients with botulism include CDC’s video on preparing and administering antitoxinexternal icon and step-by-step guidance for clinicians of patients with infant botulism.

Recent Updates: Handwashing in the Kitchen

Washing your hands before preparing food is one of the most important things you can do to prevent food poisoning. However, a 2020 survey found that 31% of participants reported not always washing their hands before preparing food. Check out CDC’s updated Handwashing: A Healthy Habit in the Kitchen page for tips on preventing the spread of germs when preparing food for yourself or others.