Clostridium botulinum

(klos-trid-ee-um bot-chew-lie-num)
About This nanobug

Nickname: C. botulinum


Morphology: Gram-positive spore-forming rod


Habitat: Lives primarily in soil and is also found on plants and the outside covering of fish and animals


Disease or illness: It causes food borne botulism which results when the toxins produced by this bacteria are eaten with food. The toxins are extremely potent and a very small amount can cause paralysis or death. Symptoms include weakness, paralysis, double vision, impaired speech and difficulty swallowing. Infant botulism can occur from eating honey which is contaminated with the spores. Wound botulism may result when dirty wounds (like from a car accident) become contaminated with the spores.


Who is at risk: Any person who eats the botulism toxin or allows entry of the spores into the body.


Avoidance techniques: Use caution when eating home canned vegetables, home-cured meats, fermented fish, and other preserved foods. Do not feed honey to infants under the age of one year. Get proper medical care for severe wounds that are contaminated with soil.


“If your canned green beans aren’t sterilized, I can make you paralyzed. So if the can is bulging, don’t be indulging.”