BY Ana Theresa F. Basilio-Williams
Whene-ver I buy canned foods in any supermarket, I make sure there is no dent or any deformed canned goods. This is because it is considered contami-nated or not suitable for public consumption.
You may get food-borne botulism if you insist on buying such different form of canned good from other goods aside from watching for its expiry date.
Botulism is a rare but serious condition caused by toxins from bacteria called Clostridium botu-linum.
Actually, there are three main forms, and the other two where you get botulism aside from food-borne botulism are infant and wound botulism.
In infant botulism, this is most common form of botulism that begins after Clostridium botulinum bacterial spores grow in a baby’s intestinal tract that typically occurs between the ages of 2 and 6 months.
If these bacteria get into a cut, wound botulism can cause a dangerous infection that produces the toxin.
Take note that all those three types of botulism can be fatal and are considered medical emergencies.
The following manifesta-tions of foodborne botulism – that begins between 18 and 36 hours after the toxin gets into your body or depending on the amount of toxin ingested – are difficulty swallowing or speaking, dry mouth, facial weakness on both sides of the face, blurred or double vision, drooping eyelids, trouble breathing, nausea, vomiting and abdo-minal cramps and paralysis.
Most people who develop wound botulism inject drugs several times a day so it’s difficult to determine how long it takes for signs and symptoms to develop after the toxin enters the body. The mani-festations are almost simi-lar to foodborne botulism.
If infant botulism is related to food, such as honey, problems generally will begin within 18 to 36 hours after the toxin enters the baby’s body. Signs and symptoms include constipa-tion as the usual first sign, floppy movements due to muscle weakness and trouble controlling the head, weak cry, irritability, drooling, drooping eyelids, tiredness, difficulty sucking or feeding and paralysis.
Seek urgent medical care if you suspect that you have botulism. Remember that early treatment in-creases your chances of survival. When you seek medical care promptly it may also serve to alert public health authorities because they can keep other people from eating contaminated food.
Because it affects muscle control throughout your body, botulinum toxin can cause many complica-tions. The most immediate danger is that you won’t be able to breathe, which is the most common cause of death in botulism.
For cases of foodborne botulism, doctors some-times clear out the digestive system by inducing vomi-ting and giving medications to induce bowel move-ments. If you have botulism in a wound, a doctor may need to remove infected tissue surgically.
To prevent, be sure to use proper techniques when canning foods at home to ensure that any botulism germs in the food are destroyed such as pressure cook these food at 121 degrees Celsius for at least 30 minutes. Also consider boiling these foods for 10 minutes before serving them.
Prepare and store food safely by not eating preserved food if its container is bulging or if the food smells spoiled. However, taste and smell won’t always give away the presence of C. botuli-num. Some strains don’t make food smell bad or taste unusual.
If you wrap potatoes in foil before baking them, eat them hot or store them in the refrigerator and not at room temperature.
Store oils infused with garlic or herbs in the refrigerator.
To reduce the risk of infant botulism, avoid giving honey even a tiny taste to babies under the age of 1 year.
And to prevent wound botulism and other serious bloodborne diseases, never inject or inhale street drugs.
HEALTHWATCHING: “This is what the LORD says, he who made the earth, the LORD who formed it and established it—the LORD is his name: ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’ Jeremiah 33:2,3