• Botulism can show itself in 4 different ways- foodborne, wound, infant and adult intestinal.
  • This fact sheet will deal with foodborne botulism only.
  • Botulism is a rare and deadly disease and needs immediate medical attention and treatment.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Symptoms will vary depending what type of botulism the person has.
  • Foodborne botulism cause people to feel tired and disoriented with blurred vision, dry mouth and difficulty with swallowing.
  • Later, the person may experience paralysis of muscles starting with shoulders and arms.
  • Symptoms get worse and without treatment- death follows.
  • With immediate treatment death is avoided but damage already done is permanent.

The time between swallowing the Botulinum poison and becoming sick ranges between 12 hours to a few days.


  • People get foodborne botulism from food containing C. botulinum toxin.
  • The toxin is formed when the Clostridium botulinum bacteria gets a chance to grow and make toxin.
  • Past outbreaks have involved garlic in oil kept at room temperature, home preserved foods and smoke and salted fish.
  • Botulism is not spread from person to person.


  • When home canning, ensure that the food is properly processed and that you use a standardized recipe.
  • When making sauces or oils containing fresh herbs, refrigerate the product when done.
  • If in doubt about the safety of canned food, throw it out.
  • When food containing C. botulinum toxin is heated the toxin is inactivated.

Cases of botulism must be reported to your Local Medical Officer of Health under the Health Protection and Promotion Act.