Global Alert and Response (GAR)

Botulism

A rare but serious paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin that is produced by the bacterium, Clostridium botulinum. Botulism toxin can be inhaled or ingested via contaminated food or water. There are five clinical categories: 1) foodborne botulism; 2) wound botulism; 3) infant botulism; 4) adult infectious botulism; 5) inadvertent, following botulinum toxin injection.

All forms of botulism can be fatal and are considered medical emergencies. Foodborne botulism can be especially dangerous because many people can be poisoned by eating contaminated food. All people are susceptible to foodborne toxins, but food poisoning can be prevented by properly processing and preserving foods.

The International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS) is involved in many aspects of chemical safety.

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