Intoxication with botulinum neurotoxin can occur through various routes. Foodborne botulism results after consumption of food in which botulinum neurotoxin-producing clostridia (i.e., Clostridium botulinum or strains of Clostridium butyricum type E or Clostridium baratii type F) have replicated and produced botulinum neurotoxin. Infection of a wound with C. botulinum and in situ production of botulinum neurotoxin leads to wound botulism. Colonization of the intestine by neurotoxigenic clostridia, with consequent production of botulinum toxin in the intestine, leads to intestinal toxemia botulism. When this occurs in an infant, it is referred to as infant botulism, whereas in adults or children over 1 year of age, it is intestinal colonization botulism. Predisposing factors for intestinal colonization in children or adults include previous bowel or gastric surgery, anatomical bowel abnormalities, Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, antimicrobial therapy, or foodborne botulism. Intestinal colonization botulism is confirmed by detection of botulinum toxin in serum and/or stool, or isolation of neurotoxigenic clostridia from the stool, without finding a toxic food. Shedding of neurotoxigenic clostridia in the stool may occur for a period of several weeks. Adult intestinal botulism occurs as isolated cases, and may go undiagnosed, contributing to the low reported incidence of this rare disease.
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