Spores from Clostridium botulinum are found worldwide in soil, agricultural products, and animal intestinal tracts. Illness is caused by the toxin produced by the bacterium after germination. Foodborne botulism results from consuming food that has been improperly handled or preserved. Infant or intestinal botulism occurs almost exclusively in children under one year of age when ingested spores germinate and colonize the intestines. Wound botulism occurs when C. botulinum infects a break in the skin. Outbreaks of wound botulism have occurred among persons who inject illicit drugs.
Resources for the general public
- Botulism facts, CDC
- Wound botulism: Public health warning for injection drug users: English | Spanish
Resources for health care professionals
- Botulism is a reportable condition in King County: See disease reporting requirements
- Botulism: Information and guidance for clinicians, CDC
- Botulinum toxin as a biological weapon – Consensus statement on medical and public health management, Journal of the American Medical Association