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Types of Botulism

There are three main kinds of botulism, distinguished by the manner in which they are contracted:
 
A fourth type of botulism is bioterror botulism.
 
The foodborne type is caused by eating foods that contain the botulism toxin. Wound botulism is caused by toxin produced from a wound infected with Clostridium botulinum. Infant botulism is caused by consuming the spores of the botulinum bacteria, which then grow in the intestines and release toxin. A number of infant botulism cases have been associated with eating honey contaminated with C. botulinum spores (see Botulism in Honey).
 
All forms of the illness can be fatal and are considered medical emergencies. Foodborne botulism can be especially dangerous because many people can be poisoned by eating contaminated food.
 
(Click Botulism Types for more information.)
 

Incubation Period

The time between a person becoming infected with botulism bacteria and the beginning of symptoms is called the "botulism incubation period." The incubation period varies based on the type. For foodborne botulism, the incubation period is between 18 to 36 hours, but can occur as early as 6 hours or as late as 10 days.
 
The incubation period for infant botulism is between 3 and 30 days, while the incubation period for wound botulism is around 10 days.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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