Botulism is a topic covered in the Washington Manual of Medical Therapeutics.

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General Principles

  • Botulism results from intoxication with botulinum toxin, produced by the anaerobic gram-positive bacillus Clostridium botulinum.
  • Modes of acquisition include ingestion of the neurotoxin from improperly canned food and contamination of wounds with C. botulinum from the soil. Inhalational botulism could result from an intentional release of aerosolized toxin.
  • Mortality is low when botulism is recognized early but may be very high in the setting of mass exposure and limited access to mechanical ventilation equipment.

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