While food poisoning can be caused by a variety of viruses, bacteria, and parasites that can come to inhabit food products via unsafe handling or preparation techniques, we often do not know the exact perpetrator of your illness. However, one dangerous source of food poisoning is the Clostridium botulinum bacteria.
When you eat food inhabited by Clostridium botulinum or its byproducts, you can contract the illness called botulism. The symptoms of botulism include double vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, and muscle weakness. Thus, botulism is typically an easily recognizable type of food poisoning.
The reason why this type of food-borne diseases causes muscular weaknesses rather than the typical nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain is that Clostridium botulinum produces a neurotoxin that interferes with your muscle function. In fact, botulinum neurotoxin is considered an extremely dangerous and potent substance. Scientists have estimated that one gram of the toxin could kill up to one million people, which is why some people have talked about the dangers of terrorists potentially using botulinum toxin for bioterrorism. Interestingly, though, many people choose to purposely inject themselves with this toxin in order to lessen the appearance of wrinkles. That’s right-botulinum toxin is the basis for the facial injection Botox.
The toxin from Clostridium botulinum actually paralyzes the nerves so that they lose the ability to signal the muscles into contracting. Because the damage done to the nerve can be semi-permanent, the effects of botulinum toxin can be very long-lasting.
When you consume food tainted with botulism, you should visit your doctor or emergency room as soon as you begin to lose muscular control and think that you have botulism. Doctors can inject and antitoxin that will help prevent the spread of the neurotoxin and stop the damage being done to your nerves. While the antitoxin can stop the toxin from spreading, it may take you weeks to recover, as mentioned above.
One serious complication resulting from botulism is respiratory distress. Because it takes so long to recover from this condition, people who suffer from respiratory damage due to the botulinum toxin may have to subsist on breathing machines for several months. Indeed, it may take years for you to get over your fatigue and shortness of breath.
Botulism can be prevented with proper canning and food handling techniques. If you ever suspect that a canned good has botulism, it is always better to throw it away than risk contracting botulism. Also, be sure to cook all of your food thoroughly to kill Clostridium botulinum and destroy its toxin.
If you or someone you know has suffered from the terrible effects of botulinum toxin, you should contact a product liability lawyer about your rights. For more information, check out the product liability attorneys from Friedman & Bonebrake, PC today.