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Ophthalmologic Manifestations of Botulism

Practice Essentials

Botulism, although rare, is a potentially lethal illness caused by the botulinum toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum and other clostridial species.

Botulism causes cranial nerve palsies and flaccid paralysis of involuntary muscles and may result in respiratory compromise.

Early diagnosis is essential. Intensive supportive care and administration of botulinum antitoxin are vital.

Administration of human-derived botulinum antitoxin in suspected infant botulism cases decreases the length of hospitalization, intensive care unit admission, and mechanical ventilation.

Botulism must be reported to state public health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at 770-488-7100.

Prevention involves keeping wounds clean and safe food preparation and food-canning techniques.

Honey should not be fed to children younger than 12 months based on multiple studies that have identified the association of honey consumption with infant botulism cases. This is supported by all major pediatric organizations.

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