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Infant Botulism - Article
ABSTRACT: Although the worldwide incidence of infant botulism is rare, the majority of cases are diagnosed in the United States. An infant can acquire botulism by ingesting Clostridium botulinum spores, which are found in soil or honey products. The spores germinate into bacteria that colonize the bowel and synthesize toxin. As the toxin is absorbed, it irreversibly binds to acetylcholine receptors on motor nerve terminals at neuromuscular junctions. The infant with botulism becomes progressively weak, hypotonic and hyporeflexic, showing bulbar and spinal nerve abnormalities. Presenting symptoms include constipation, lethargy, a weak cry, poor feeding and dehydration. A high index of suspicion is important for the diagnosis and prompt treatment of infant botulism, because this disease can quickly progress to respiratory failure. Diagnosis is confirmed by isolating the organism or toxin in the stool and finding a classic electromyogram pattern. Treatment consists of nutritional and respiratory support until new motor endplates are regenerated, which results in spontaneous recovery. Neurologic sequelae are seldom seen. Some children require outpatient tube feeding and may have persistent hypotonia.
ABSTRACT: Recent events have demonstrated that bioterrorists have the ability to disseminate biologic agents in the United States and cause widespread social panic. Family physicians would play a key role in the initial recognition of a potential bioterrorism attack. Familiarity with the infectious agents of highest priority can expedite diagnosis and initial management, and lead to a successful public health response to such an attack. High-priority infectious agents include anthrax, smallpox, plague, tularemia, botulism, and viral hemorrhagic fever. Anthrax and smallpox must be distinguished from such common infections as influenza and varicella. Anthrax treatment is stratified into postexposure prophylaxis and treatment of confirmed cutaneous, intestinal, or inhalation anthrax. Disease prevention by vaccination and isolation of affected persons is key in preventing widespread smallpox infection. Many resources are available to physicians when a bioterrorism attack is suspected, including local public health agencies and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.