Clostridium botulinum is a gram positive, anaerobic bacterium that produces the botulinium neurotoxin. Botulinium is the most potent toxin known to mankind with a lethal dose of less than 1 μg in humans . The toxin can cause severe muscle weekness or paralysis in humans and animals by blocking the passage of nerve stimuli at nerve endings, this can lead to imparement of cranial nerve function with respiratory faliure the usual cause of death.
The bacterium is motile, rod shaped and spore forming and is found in soil, marine sediment, animal guts and dung. The spores can be ingested or inhaled but can also infect an open wound. it is not the spores that are harmful but the toxins they produce, which cause botulism. C. botulinium produces endospores that are heat resistant enabling survival in adverse conditions.
- ↑ Ryan K.J. , Ray C (2010). Chapter 29. Clostridium, Peptostreptococcus, Bacteroides, and Other Anaerobes Sherris Medical Microbiology, 5th ed.
- ↑ Peck, MW (2009). "Biology and genomic analysis of Clostridium botulinum.". Advances in microbial physiology 55: 183–265, 320