Botulinum Toxin: A Killer and a Healer
How can the world's dangerous substance be a person's healer? Highlight 11.1, "Botulinum Toxin: A Killer and a Healer," describes this two-faced toxin produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum that may help a person with muscle problems and yet threat the whole world with only one gram of botulinum toxin. This bacteria, C. botulinum, also meaning, "sausage" in Latin is an anaerobic, endospore-forming, Gram positive bacillus that is common in soil and water worldwide.
Clostridia are rod-shaped, but when producing spores they appear more like drumsticks with a bulge at one end. The vegetative cells are the yellow drumsticks, and the spores are the light-blue ovals within the yellow cells (as seen on the picture above). Its endospores that survive "improper canning of food, germinating to produce vegetative cells that grow and release into the jar or can a powerful neurotoxin," (Vangelova, 1) that can cause botulism when toxin enters the body. Different strains of botulinum produces one of seven antigenically distinct botulism toxins ( A through G). The good thing is that this toxin is not contagious but can be easily acquired. There are three types of botulinum toxin that can be obtained through food-borne, wound, or an infant. But it is also being used in the medical field to suppress many diseases.
Botulinum toxin can be obtained through food-borne. As Vangelova stated, "One of the most common culprits in food-borne botulism is home-canned food, especially vegetables such as asparagus, green beans, and peppers. More than 90 percent of food-borne botulism outbreaks between 1976 and 1985 were due to home-processed foods," describing how these endospores can germinate vegetative cells and cause great damage. One basic recommendation was to cook food to be canned in pressure cookers because they can maintain temperatures high enough (abo…