Eight cases of botulism, a rare poisoning, were admitted to intensive care in Bordeaux over the past weekend. Food poisoning is believed to be the cause. Dr. Kierzek, emergency physician and medical director of TipsForWomens, explains to us what this dangerous toxin is.
It is a rare condition today that struck Bordeaux last weekend. Eight people were urgently hospitalized for botulinum toxin food poisoning after eating in the same restaurant. 5 of these 8 patients had to be placed on ventilatory assistance in the Intensive Medicine-Resuscitation department of the Bordeaux University Hospital. But what is botulism?
What is botulism?
The matter is serious for Dr. Kierzek, emergency physician. “Botulism comes from an infection with a bacteria, Clostridium botulinum, which is extremely rare today, but serious. It is a neurotoxin which, if left untreated, leads to muscle paralysis, and therefore eventual death. he mentions.
There are 3 types of botulism:
- Food botulism “which is linked to a toxin that is found in poorly preserved foods, such as bulging cans, canned fish, etc. and that we ingest by consuming contaminated foods”;
- Infant botulism which is due to colonization of the intestine by C. botulinumin particular by ingesting honey or dust containing spores of C. botulinum. “This form causes anorexia in the newborn, impaired crying and loss of head control, constipation, then paralysis and respiratory failure in severe forms” indicates the Pasteur Institute on its website.
- Wound botulism is also possible when a wound is contaminated by C. botulinum as in the case of tetanus. This botulism is rare and is more likely to occur in people who take drugs by injection.
Botulism is fatal in 5 to 10% of cases.
What are the symptoms of botulism?
Botulism occurs after an incubation of a few hours to a few days, depending on the mode of contamination, indicates the Pasteur Institute. In general, people who have shared the same foods show identical symptoms, but with varying severity.
- Eye damage (failure to accommodate, blurred vision);
- Dry mouth;
- A deficiency in swallowing or even speech;
- Then paralysis of the muscles.
“In advanced forms, these symptoms progress to descending paralysis of the limbs and respiratory muscles.”
How is poisoning treated?
Taken in time, however, it is possible to neutralize the infection. “There is a botulinum antitoxin, which neutralizes the toxin” Dr. Kierzek tells us. Serotherapy, however, only works if it is administered early, within the first 24 hours after symptoms appear. Severe forms may also require intensive respiratory care with assisted ventilation. The Pasteur Institute also explains that antibiotics have no action on botulinum toxin. “On the other hand, they are necessary in the case of infant botulism, to destroy the bacteria lodged in the digestive tract of the infant.”
“The main thing is prevention” concludes our doctor. In short
- Do not eat damaged or bulging cans or poorly preserved foods;
- Separate raw foods from cooked foods;
- Cook food well;
- Use safe water and products;
- Do not give honey to a child under one year old.