Evaluating Exposure

Person to person transmission of botulism does not occur. The symptoms are not caused by the organism itself, but by the toxin that the bacterium releases which usually appear within 12 to 36 hours but can range from four hours to eight days after exposure. Incidence of botulism is low, but the mortality rate is high if not treated immediately. The disease can be fatal in 5 to 10 percent of cases. The following references provide useful information about the management of exposures to botulinum toxin.

Evaluation and Investigation

Prompt and thorough laboratory evaluation of cases and suspected foods is essential. Cases of foodborne disease involving botulism, are identified by a distinctive clinical syndrome. For information about conducting evaluations of foodborne disease and reporting foodborne disease epidemics to local health authorities, see the following reference: