Botulism Presentation Essay

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In today’s presentation we will cover information regarding the organism that causes botulism and its epidemiology. We will also talk about the history of the disease, how it is transmitted, and the clinical and necropsy signs observed. Finally, we will address prevention measures for botulism. Botulism is caused by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. It is a gram positive, spore-forming, obligate anaerobic bacillus. The clostridial spores are ubiquitous in soil and are very resistant to heat, light, drying and radiation. Spores may survive boiling for several hours at 100 oC, however exposure to moist heat at 120 oC for 30 minutes will kill the spores. Specific conditions are required for the germination of spores. These include anaerobic conditions (such as rotting carcasses or canned food), warmth, and mild alkalinity. The photo shows the bacillus shape of the bacterium C. botulinum. After germination, clostridial spores release neurotoxins. There are 7 antigenic types of neurotoxins, classified as A through G. Typically, different neurotoxin types affect different species. Only a few nanograms of these toxins can cause severe illness. All cause flaccid paralysis in the species affected. Toxin is produced in improperly processed, canned, low-acid or alkaline foods, and in pasteurized and lightly cured foods held without refrigeration, especially in airtight packaging. The physiologic mechanism of the neurotoxin is to irreversibly bind at neuromuscular junctions to prevent the release of acetylcholine (Ach). This causes muscular paralysis. The peripheral sensory nerves and the central nervous system are usually not affected. The toxin can be destroyed heat and cooking food at 80oC for 30 minutes, however, inactivation of spores requires a much higher temperature. This table summarizes the most common neurotoxin type affecting the various species affected

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