5 Things You Should Know About Botulism

5 Things You Should Know About Botulism

This illness kills and the source can be sitting undetected in your food if you’re an unlucky duck.

This past week, contaminated nacho cheese from a gas station outside of Sacramento, California killed one man and sent 9 others to hospital. The bacteria responsible was Clostridium botulinum, something that causes botulism.

It’s a scary rare event that no one likely ever dreams of being a part of, but somehow some are.

Certainly the 37-year old father who died as a result of eating the dip and the 9 others, many of whom are spending days and weeks on ventilating machines, or paralyzed in the hospital, never imagined that eating a cheese dip would mark the end of it all.

The very scary thing about the bacteria that cause food borne illnesses like botulism is that you often can’t detect them with the naked eye. You’d need a microscope and a lab.

Here are 5 other things to know about botulism, that might help you steer clear of it:

1) It Can Be Fatal but Rarely Is

Botulism can be fatal.

Martin Galindo-Larious Jr, the very unfortunate man who died tragically in this case forms part of a very small percentage of botulism victims. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just 3%-5% of people who fall ill due to botulism, die.

2) It Paralyzes You

Botulism can be fatal.

Botulism generally causes paralysis in your muscles-this is why all the beauty hogs rush to it, to freeze those wrinkles in time.

Because of this reality though, some symptoms include blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, and difficulty swallowing. In more severe cases, botulism can lead to paralysis of your lungs, arms, legs and torso.

3) Having Botox Done Can Cause It

As was just mentioned, botulism is the bacteria used in Botox treatments. Kinda scary. Botox is “safe” because the amounts used are so miniscule, but if someone doesn’t administer it properly and a Botox overdose results, know that it can result in botulism.

 4) It Can Put You on a Ventilator for Weeks

Botulism can be fatal.

Some of the victims in California have spent weeks in intensive care, hooked up to ventilators trying to overcome the poison in their system.

5) Home Canning Can Cause It

If you don’t keep foods in the refrigerator that should be there, you could develop botulism from eating them. In the same vein, food that’s kept for long periods of time through canning or fermentation but has gone “off” can carry botulism.

When it comes to home canning, it’s uber important to follow the directions accurately in order to avoid any problems. Follow these tips from the CDC on how to do it right.

6) You Can’t See, Smell or Taste It

lovely casual woman representing senses: mute blind and deaf (isolated on white)

Like the best spies, you can’t see, smell or taste botulism when you come across it. So, basically you’ll have no idea what hit you until you’re forced to seek professional medical help because you noticed that your healthy complexion has gone down the drain.

Know that symptoms can appear the same day you ingest the bacteria, or they can wait days before surfacing.

Check out the CDC’s website for a complete rundown of botulism and how you can reduce your chances of coming in contact with it.

Photo credits: felipecaparros/Bigstock; pixelaway/Bigstock; pixelaway/Bigstock;REDPIXEL.PL/Bigstock; Luis Santos/Bigstock

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