Clostridium botulinum can cause an outbreak

Clostridium Botulinum is a bacillus gram positive bacteria. It is an obligate anaerobic bacteria, meaning that this bacteria can not live in a room with oxygen inside. Oxygen is poisonous to the cells due to the lack of enzyme superoxide dismutase as an important antioxidant defense in nearly all cells exposed to oxygen.

Clostridium botulinum produces several exotoxins. It affects people’s nerve. That’s why it is also known as neurotoxins which is subdivided in types A-H. This causes flaccid muscular paralysis that always seen in botulism. The neurotoxins is produced during sporulation, which only happen in anaerobic condition. In unfavorable condition, this bacteria produce spores to protect itself, to preserve its viability. The spores is a dormant state. It will become an active bacteria again if it is exposed to favorable conditions.

History of Clostridium botulinum

Clostridium botulinum was first recognized by Emile van Ermengem in 1895. It was isolated from home cured ham after a botulism outbreak. This outbreak was first name as sausage poisoning. It was a common problem in 18th and 19th century in Germany.

How to isolate Clostridium botulinum?

This anaerobic bacteria is usually isolated by using tryptose sulfite cycloserine (TSCC) growth media in an anaerobic condition. How to remove the oxygen? It can be removed by several commercial kits that use a chemical reaction. Clostridium botulinum grows between pH 4.8 and 7. It is a lipase positive bacteria, and it can not use lactose as a primary carbon source.

There are four groups of Clostridium botulinum based on their ability to digest complex proteins. It is also supported by the studies of DNA and rRNA level that subdivided the species into groups I-IV. Group I (proteolytic) and group II (non-protelytic) are the cause of most outbreaks of human botulism. Group III is the main cause of botulism in animals. Group IV has no record to cause botulisme in human or animal.

Botulism poisoning could be avoided. It occurs due to improperly preserved or home canned. It is related with low acid food that was not processed properly using correct preservation times. The symptoms of botulisme is including double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelid, dry mouth, difficulty in swallowing, constipation, muscle weakness.

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