Bacteria that cause botulism (Clostridium Botulinnum)

According to the announcement of the Food Safety Bureau, from July 13 to now, 10 people have been identified to be poisoned by food contaminated with Clostridium botulinum bacteria.

A total of 9 cases have to be treated in hospitals, of which, Bach Mai Hospital (Hanoi) received 2 cases, at Cho Ray Hospital (HCMC) 5 cases and Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases had 2 cases.

Clostridium botulinum type B bacteria were found in preliminary testing results from different batches of products. This is a rare but VERY DANGEROUS food poisoning, so everyone should be wary.

What should we know about this disease and the disease-causing agents? Specifically, this bacterium is present in soil but not found in human feces. Botulism occurs when you use stored food. Mainly canned foods are contaminated with the Clostridium botulinum bacteria or their spores.

Appearance: axial shape with 4 – 6 mm in long, 0.9 – 1.2 mm in wide, hairy, spore-forming, gram-stained.

Culture: Absolutely anaerobic bacteria, suitable development in 26-280C. In anaerobic liquid environment, bacteria grow strongly. Firstly, it clouds the environment, leave sediment when left for a long so the environment becomes more transparent. In the density of small colonies medium, bacteria produce slightly cracking agar.

Toxins: Bacteria produce exotoxins when growing in anaerobic culture medium or in foods with anaerobic conditions. The toxin production capacity is relatively fixed in types A, B, and in other types the toxin production ability is changable. Clostridium botulinum toxin is essentially a protein, has an affinity for the nerve organization. They act on the neuromuscular junctions to prevent the release of acetyl choline from the ends of motor nerves Cholinergic.

2. Ability to cause disease

It is caused by eating canned stores that are contaminated with Clostridium botulinum bacteria or their spores. The bacteria have favorable conditions and produce toxins. When ingesting this food into the gastrointestinal tract, the undamaged toxin is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream and reaches the body’s organization.

The neurological symptoms are due to the toxic effect on this organ, which acts on the neuromuscular junctions, preventing the release of acetyl choline in the cholinergic motor nerve terminals.

Disease develops rapidly in 6- 48 hours after eating the contaminated food. Abdominal pain, vomiting, headache, dizziness, double vision, hoarseness leading to loss of voice, muscle paralysis, dyspnea, in severe casesm, patient can be death.

3. Diagnosis

Diagnosis of the disease is mainly based on clinical practice. Laboratory diagnosis has a little value. In the laboratory, it is possible to perform a neutralization reaction in mice.

4. Prevention and treatment

Disease prevention: Mainly eliminating suspected poisoned foods, cooking food carefully.

Treatment: Using mixed antitoxin from many types


Assoc.Pro. Tran Dinh Binh

Thua Thien Hue Association for Infection Control

 Thua Thien Hue Union of Science and Techonology Associations

Head of Department of Anti-infection, Hospital of Hue University of Medicine and Pharmacy

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