What is botulism, and how does it kill?

Botulism is a paralyzing nerve toxin, considered to be one of the most potent and lethal substances in the world. It's produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum and sometimes by strains of Clostridium butyricum and Clostridium baratii. The rod-shaped bacteria are commonly found in soil and sediments from lakes, rivers and oceans. They thrive in low-oxygen conditions, such as canned foods, deep wounds and the intestinal tract, but when threatened form protective spores with a hard coating that allows the bacteria to survive for years.


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