Infant with botulism identified in Israel; treated with antitoxin

Botulism is scary. In adults, consuming small amount of toxin (as little as a couple of nanograms) can cause paralysis; victims often end up on a ventilator for months. Intoxication is fatal in 5-10% of cases (depending on the type).
In infants, the risk comes from ingesting C. botulinum spores (most often associated with honey)Household dust has also also been identified as a potential source in at least one case.botulism_starter_kit_by_strangecraftdesign-d3cwcvg
Regardless of the source, the consequences can be catastrophic. Illness severity is linked to how quickly the right treatment is administered — identification of the symptoms takes an on-the-ball physician who knows a bit about food safety.
According to, an Israeli doctor’s access to antitoxin may have saved an infant’s life.
A 7-month-old child is in serious condition in an Israeli hospital after ingesting spores of a rare and deadly disease just days earlier.
“During our checkup, we concluded that he was suffering from botulism,” Dr. Eli Shapiro, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit chief at Rehovot’s Kaplan Hospital, told Army Radio on Wednesday.
Kaplan, like all Israeli medical facilities, keeps ample supplies of biological and chemical warfare antidotes on hand in case of war or terrorist attacks, and regularly drills staffers in dealing with the symptoms of various chemical, neural and blister agents.
The quick-thinking mother immediately brought the child to the hospital when she saw he was suffering from vomiting, difficulty in breathing, listlessness and an inability to nurse or eat, hospital officials said.
“The infant is still in a life-threatening situation, however, the muscular paralysis has been checked and there’s been a small degree of improvement in his muscular weakness,” Shapiro said.
Shapiro said it was, as yet, unclear as to the source of the poisoning, however, Health Ministry officials have been alerted and are investigating the circumstances.
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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.