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Fact sheet - Health conditions directory

Botulism is a rare but potentially fatal condition that causes progressive and often rapid weakness. In Australia, there is typically only one case of botulism reported per year. Botulism is caused by nerve toxins made by Clostridium botulinum bacteria. These bacteria are found worldwide in soils, but people who develop botulism most commonly get it from eating food that is contaminated with the bacteria or its toxin. Occasionally, the bacteria can get into the body through a break in the skin. The toxin that causes botulism is one of the most powerful known poisons and small amounts can do lots of damage to nerves. While death from botulism is rare, full recovery may take months.

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Last updated: 5 June 2023

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