Swallowing the spores of the bacteria Clostridium botulinum is considered to be the main reason behind the occurrence of botulism in infants. The toxin produced by the pathogen is the foundation for all the problems among the young ones.
Infant Botulism – The Varied Modes of Infection
The main mode of infection in the case of infant botulism is the ingestion of clostridium spore contaminated foods. Other sources of the spores are mostly from soil or even sometimes through honey. Food borne botulism occurs through the consumption of home-canned foods like green beans, corns, beets, etc, that are low in acid levels. The disease also occurs through ingestion of infected, canned potatoes by the infants. Infants also can contract the infection through the wounds where the bacteria can multiply to produce toxins. The disease usually affects infants between three weeks to six months, but, they are still vulnerable till the age of one. Older babies and adults are relatively resistant to infant botulism as their system efficiently removes the spores from the body.
Botulism Symptoms – Signs of the Illness
Botulism can occur in infants within three to thirty days after an infant ingests the spores. One of the first botulism symptoms is constipation. When the infant stops passing stools for more than three days, then it could be a strong evidence of botulism. Other common symptoms include flat facial expression, poor feeding habits or poor sucking, difficulty in swallowing and excessive drooling, Weakness of the muscles, difficulty in breathing easily, respiratory distress, alertness in spite of weakness, vomiting in some cases, etc. Doctors normally examine the infants for drooping of eyelids, paralyzed bowel, and loss of muscle functions for extreme cases. The treatment for botulism symptoms is given in the form of botulinus anti toxin. Prompt and early diagnosis and treatment drastically reduces the disease severity.
Botulism Food – Causes Infection
Botulism spread by food is commonly referred to as food borne botulism. Many researchers have provided a strong correlation between honey and botulism in infants. The bacteria especially like foods that have little or no oxygen levels as it is an anaerobic bacterium. Canned foods are the preferred place for them to grow and produce the spores. A large number of food borne out breaks have occurred in commercially canned salmons, onions, bottled garlic, baked potatoes, smoked fish, salted fish, etc. As a safety measure, it is recommended to boil all the canned foods for at least twenty minutes after opening the cans or jars. Botulism food has anomalous color or odor and avoid buying cans that are already leaking, bulging, or cracked. Some infected containers also produce foams when opened, which also should not be used as a precautionary measure.