Clostridium botulinum is a Gram negative bacteria which belongs to the family Bacilli. It grows best under favorable conditions. Its life cycle lasts from two days to one year. During its growth period it produces toxins which cause paralysis, respiratory failure, coma or death.
The Clostridium botulinum life cycle begins with spores germinating in soil or water. These spores grow into tiny cells called sporozoites (spores). The cells grow and divide into more sporozoites. The sporozoites enter the next stage of growth when they start to produce a protective coat.
This stage is called a tetrad. These cells then grow and divide into more tetrads. When the right conditions are present, these tetrad cells produce more protective coats. These protective coats are called spore cells or sporocytes. The spore cells will grow and divide to become large, round cells called, variably shaped spores. These sporocytes will grow and divide to produce more spores. These new spores are then released and are able to infect the host.
The infected host can be wild or domestic animals, humans, or plants. The new spores will only infect the same type of host. For example, only a human can get infected by a human-infecting clostridium botulinum. The new spores grow and divide to become large cells called, prototrophs.
The prototrophs will grow and divide into binary fission cycles. Each cycle of division will produce 2 prototrophs. Each cycle will take anywhere from one to several days. After one to several cycles of division, the prototrophs will grow and divide into large cells called, sporoblasts. Each sporoblast will grow and divide to become many sporoblasts. After one to several cycles of division, the sporoblasts will grow and divide into spores. The spores will be released from the host.
Clostridium botulinum can be ingested by eating infected food. The spores may be present on the food surface after the food is contaminated by soil or dust. The spores can also be present in the digestive track of an infected animal. The spores then grow and produce toxins in the small intestines.
The infection of a new host can also occur through wounds or through an animal bite.
The spores do not grow in the human digestive track. The spores pass through the digestive track and are eliminated from the body unchanged. Humans do not get infected by eating infected food.
Clostridium botulinum grows best under anaerobic conditions and an acid pH. When the bacteria grow in low oxygen conditions, they produce a powerful toxin. The toxin can cause paralysis and death. The bacteria can also grow in the absence of oxygen.
If the host is exposed to less than 10% oxygen, it could allow clostridium to grow. The bacteria will not grow below 2.9% oxygen.
The toxin is heat labile, meaning it can be destroyed by heat. When food is properly cooked, it kills the bacteria and the toxin. It is very important that food be cooked to the right temperature and for the right amount of time.
How are people exposed to Clostridium Botulinum?
Clostridium Botulinum is one of the most poisonous substances known. The bacteria and the toxin are often present in the environment without causing problems. Ingestion of the toxin can cause death within a few hours. The disease is one of the most dangerous food poisonings. It can be caused by eating foods that contain the toxin. It can also be caused by breathing in dust that contains the toxin. The disease is not contagious and it cannot be passed from person to person. The disease can also be caused by wounds, or through an animal bite.
The disease causes paralysis through the injection of toxins. The toxin affects the nervous system. The disease can cause paralysis of the respiratory muscles. This can result in death by asphyxiation.
The disease is often fatal.
What are the symptoms of Clostridium Botulinum?
The disease has three stages. These stages are called, tetani, rigors, and paralysis. The paralysis usually starts in the face and jaw, and moves to the chest and through the body, eventually reaching the limbs. Each stage can last for several days. The disease may cause permanent paralysis and even death.
The first stage of the disease is called, tetani. It usually occurs in 3 to 21 days after infection. The disease starts with rigors, which are very strong alternating bouts of fever and chills. After this stage, the victim has severe muscular contractions.
These painful muscular contractions are called, tetani. The facial muscles wrinkle and the jaw is thrust out. Soon, the rest of the body is affected. This stage may last for several days. Death is unlikely at this point.
The second stage of the disease causes rigors to become more frequent and stronger. The muscular contractions become very strong and painful. There is severe pain in the abdomen, back, and chest muscles. The victim may have difficulty breathing.
This stage can last for several days.
The third stage of the disease can cause respiratory failure. The victim may stop breathing due to paralysis of the diaphragm. Because of this, artificial respiration may be required. The disease may cause paralysis of the heart and other organs.
This can result in death.
What is the treatment for Clostridium Botulinum?
There are no known drugs to cure the disease. Antitoxin is available to help prevent the disease from becoming severe. If the disease does become severe, antibiotics may be used to treat the secondary infections that often occur.
People with the disease must be placed in an isolation unit to prevent the spread of the disease. The victim is then given artificial respiration to keep them alive until the tetani subsides.
How can Clostridium Botulinum be prevented?
Boiling food for 10 minutes, or boiling it in a ash-water solution for 30 minutes can kill the bacteria and the toxin. The toxin is very heat-resistant and can only be destroyed by boiling. The toxin can also be inactivated by acids and enzymes. Molds can produce acids that can inactivate the toxin. The toxin is water-soluble and can be inactivated by washing with soap or any detergent. The disease is often fatal because the toxin is so resistant to inactivation and so potent.
How is Clostridium Botulinum contracted?
The disease is often contracted by eating contaminated food. The toxin can be in the food without any visible signs. This is why it is important to follow proper food preparation techniques.
What foods commonly have Clostridium Botulinum in them?
Sources & references used in this article:
- Another type of Clostridium botulinum. (D Gimenez, AS Ciccarelli – Zentralblatt fur Bakteriologie …, 1970 – cabdirect.org)
- Botulism. The organism, its toxins, the disease. (LDS Smith – 1977 – cabdirect.org)
- Botulism, a complication of Clostridium botulinum wound infection. (CG Thomas Jr, MF Keleher, AP McKee – Arch. Pathol., 1951 – cabdirect.org)
- PHYSIOLOGY OF TOXIN PRODUCTION BY CLOSTRIDIUM BOTULINUM TYPES A AND B I.: Growth, Autolysis, and Toxin Production (PF Bonventre, LL Kempe – Journal of bacteriology, 1960 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Botulinum neurotoxins: genetic, structural and mechanistic insights (O Rossetto, M Pirazzini, C Montecucco – Nature Reviews Microbiology, 2014 – nature.com)
- The purification and crystallization of Clostridium botulinum type A toxin. (C Lamanna, OE McElroy, HW Eklund – Science (Washington), 1946 – cabdirect.org)
- Infant botulism due to Clostridium botulinum type C toxin. (K Oguma, K Yokota, S Hayashi – … to Clostridium botulinum type C …, 1990 – cabdirect.org)
- Inhibition of the growth of Clostridium botulinum by acidification. (CT Townsend, L Yee, WA Mercer – Food Research, 1954 – cabdirect.org)
- Studies on strain 84 of Clostridium botulinum. (DF Giménez, AS Ciccarelli – Zentralblatt fur Bakteriologie …, 1970 – cabdirect.org)