How to Identify Botulism

What Are the Symptoms?

The earliest symptoms may include:
 
  • Double vision
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Slurred speech
  • Dry mouth
  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Muscle weakness.
     
Infants with early symptoms of botulism may:
 
If a healthcare provider cannot identify and treat the illness early, the symptoms progress to paralysis of the:
 
  • Arms
  • Legs
  • Trunk
  • Respiratory system.
     
People with respiratory symptoms may have to use a ventilator to help them breathe until they recover from the toxin, which normally requires 2 to 8 weeks.
 
(Click Symptoms of Botulism for more information.)
 

Making a Diagnosis

In order to make a diagnosis, the doctor will ask a number of questions and perform a physical exam looking for signs of the toxin. If the doctor suspects botulism, he or she will send a blood or stool sample to a specialized laboratory for analysis.
 
Because botulism occurs rarely and the symptoms are similar to those seen in other diseases, diagnosis is difficult and the condition is frequently misdiagnosed.
 
Other diseases that can appear similar to botulism include:
 

 

(Click Botulism Diagnosis for more information.)

 

Botulism Disease

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