Read about botulism and about the first botox

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The bacterium

In fact, the Clostridium botulinum bacterium is very common and is widely found in nature (in soil and contaminated water, among others).

The bacterium itself is harmless, but it comes under, among other things. oxygen-poor conditions , it produces toxins (toxins) – and the poison is extremely dangerous.

Clostridium botulinum bacteria (shown here in colonies)

Bacterial poison

The poisonous botulinum toxin of the bacterium (abbreviated as BTX or BoNT ) is one of the world’s most toxic substances. It is a protein and a neurotoxin that can lead to the deadly disease botulism, better known as sausage poisoning. It is the specific molecular action of the protein that makes it so toxic.

It is the poison from the bacterium (not the bacterium itself) that cause botulism!

The different types of botulinum toxins

Botulinum toxin is not only a single kind of poison – there are a total of 8 different types: type A, B, C, D, E, F, G and the lesser known: type H .

4 of the types cause botulism in humans, namely type A, B, E and rarely F.

Types C, D and E provide botulism in other mammals, birds and fish.

Read e.g. link on botulism on the WHO website:

The last type – type H – is not yet officially mentioned, and there are several reasons: it was first mentioned in a scientific report in 2013, and no antidote to it has yet been found. Furthermore, it is the most toxic type of them all. Thus, there is no hope of healing if one becomes infected.

There is a good video about botulinum toxin type H here:

In the link below is an article about the finding of Botulinum toxin H in a child:

Where to find botulism

Botulinum toxin is best known for developing in sealed canned cans that bulge when food is spoiled, but in fact the poison also develops under other conditions and food poisoning is not the most prevalent.

Food poisoning

Botulism develops under oxygen-poor conditions. The can may bulge out (as in the picture), but cans that bulge inward may also be due to spoiled food.

By food poisoning botulism, the bacterium has been introduced into the body – via spoiled food – and down into the intestinal system, where it has spread to the bloodstream. Food poisoning botulism is extremely dangerous.

The poison can spread to the chest – via the peripheral nervous system. – Vital muscles such as heart and lungs may be affected. If this happens, put in a respirator.

Paralysis can be prevented with antidotes, but once the paralysis has occurred, healing can only be achieved by the nerve cell building a new nerve end, which can take months.

Botulism in water

Bathing bans have been seen on certain beaches (including in the Netherlands), where the bacterium has spread poison and posed a health hazard to bathers.

Here is an article on the Wasaga beach in Canada where it was suspected that dead birds had been affected by botulism. What can happen is that the fish are poisoned by polluted water – they are then eaten by birds, which in this way gets poisoned:

Botulism in wounds

In the 1950s, it was found that botulism can not only cause illness by consuming spoiled food, but that wounds can also act as a gateway to the body. The low-oxygen environment, especially in deep wounds, can cause the Clostrium botulinum spores to develop into vegetative cells that produce toxins that are subsequently absorbed into the blood.

Wound botulism is especially prevalent among drug addicts who have injected drugs into the skin, called “skin popping”. Special mention is made of black tar heroin in this regard.

Botulism with infant children

Infant botulism was confirmed in 1976.

Since infants do not have the same developed gut flora as adults, food spores may settle in the gut of infants because the spores are not inhibited by gut bacteria as in adults. The spores can develop from the gut into vegetative cells that can produce toxins.

Infant botulism is especially associated with intake of honey, as the trace content of this food can be high.

Botulism in cattle

Botulism in cattle herds in agriculture is not uncommon and is something that farmers regularly observe. It can occur if the animals are given feed stored under oxygen-poor conditions, e.g. silage (fermented grass and plants) or in water tanks where a dead bird has fallen into or a cat that has had the bacteria in the gut. Typical evidence of acute botulism among cattle is a flaccid tail and paralysis of the tongue. There is also talk of chronic botulism among cattle in agriculture (a milder form of botulism), but there is disagreement as to whether it exists.

Iatrogenic botulism

Here on the website, the term iatrogenic botulism is used quite a bit. This means: botulism induced by a drug – such as. can be Botox or Dysport.

This is how botulism was found

The disease botulism became known in 1820 when the German physician Justinus Kerner (1786-1862) gave an accurate description of the clinical symptoms of the disease in 76 patients who had eaten self-smoked sausages . The name of the disease emerged after this outbreak, with the botulus being the Latin word for sausage, which at that time was the only known food that had caused the disorder.

In 1895 , 34 guests became ill from a ham , which was served to a funeral home in Belgium. Here, microbiologist Émile Pierre Marie van Ermengem found out the cause of the disease when he succeeded in isolating a non-oxygen-demanding spore-producing microorganism from the ham. The same microorganism that was isolated from the ham was also isolated from the tissue of the 3 people who died as a result of the meal. Van Ermengen called the microorganism Bacillus botulinus , later renamed Clostridium botulinum.

In 1904 , 11 of 21 people were killed by a botulism-like outbreak in Germany. Until then, one had been convinced that only meat-based foods could cause botulism, but this perception changed. The sick had consumed a salad containing unheated home-preserved white beans. A bacterium and a toxin that were very similar to those described by Van Ermengen a few years earlier were isolated. When comparing the two bacteria and their toxins, the toxins were found to be very similar, but their serum was different as antitoxins from the two bacteria did not neutralize each other. The toxins were thus named type A and type B, respectively, and their diverse microbiological characteristics began to be investigated. The identification of the C, D, E, F and G toxins occurred in subsequent years, until 1970.

The toxin is produced

Botulinum toxin was first produced in 1944 when Edward Schantz cultivated Clostridium botulinum and isolated the toxin.

The effect of the toxin on the nerves is detected

The influence of the toxin on the nerves was clarified in 1949 by A. Burgen, F. Dickens and L. Zatman in London. The two researchers found that the toxin reduces the secretion of acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a signal substance between the nerves. They isolated the cervical nerve from a rat and injected the nerve type A toxin, and the toxin blocked the nerve from sending signals to the muscle.

Botox is made

In 1973, Alan B Scott of the Smith Kettewell Eye Research Institute for the first time used botulinum toxin in a human to treat strabismus.

In 1989, the FDA approved botulinum toxin for the treatment of the discus, belpharospasm ( involuntary blink and eyelid flap) and hemifacial spasms ( unilateral facial features ) in patients under 12 years.

In 2001, England approved Botox for increased sweat production, and Canada approved Botox for increased sweat production, muscle plasticity and cosmetic treatment of wrinkles at the forehead.

In 2002, the FDA approved Botox for cosmetic use and requested that the product be marketed under the name BOTOX ® Cosmetic.

In July 2004, the FDA approved Botox for the treatment of increased sweat production. It has not been approved by the FDA for chronic pain except chronic migraine.


photo credit: kathywinston Botox before and after (injection) via photopin (license)

photo credit: hukuzatuna Clostridium botulinum via photopin (license)

photo credit: aaron_anderer 02April2018-SanFrancisco-IMG_6032 via photopin (license)

photo credit: marcoverch Ein Glas von Akazienhonig mit kleinem grünen Ast via photopin (license)

photo credit: Peter Baer Death in a can? via photopin (license)

Photo by Jair Lázaro on Unsplash