Botulinum toxins and are often found in poorly preserved food, or more rarely in flesh wounds. Hence Humans may contract Botulism through either food or blood poisoning. Since contraction through either route is uncommon, as a rule few humans are vacinated against Botulism, highlighting the potential danger of the Toxin’s use as a weapon.
Above: Poorly sealed food cans may harbour Botulinum Toxins at a high enough level to cause death.
The clinical effects of Botulinum Toxins in humans are normally apparent 24-72 hours after contraction. The fundamental effect of the toxicity mechanism on humans is muscle paralysis. This gives rise to a multitude of symptoms such as:
- Blurred vision
- Drooping eyelids
- Slurred speech
- Muscle weakness
- Difficulty swallowing
- Double vision
- Dry mouth
If these symptoms are left un–checked the muscle paralysis may spread to the resperatory system, which is often fatal. The clinical effects of Botulism normally peak around 4-6 weeks after contraction.
Recovery from respiratory Botulism may take several weeks, with the patient requiring the aid of a ventilator whilst nerve sprouting and new terminal formation arises (see Cosmetics page for full details of recovery mechanism).
If treated extremely quickly, the toxic mechanism may be stopped by the addition of anti-toxins to the blood stream. A particular anti-toxin is specific to the Toxin type (i.e A or B e.t.c) it is required to act against.
The severity of illness is heavily dependant on both the Toxin type, and the amount of Toxin received.
Above: The symptoms of Botulism are apparent. This photo was taken four days after contraction.
All Botulinum Toxins are inactivated if heated to above 85°C, also, no cases of waterbourne Boutulism have ever been reported.