Botulism: Prevention Overview for Clinicians

  • There is no vaccine for botulism at this time, and antitoxins are not useful for preventive purposes.
  • There is no natural immunity to botulism.
  • Public health agencies are conducting the following activities to prevent or control botulism:
    • Public education about botulism prevention is an ongoing activity. Information about safe canning is widely available for consumers.
    • State health departments and CDC have botulism experts on-hand to consult with physicians 24 hours a day. If antitoxin is needed to treat a patient, it can be quickly delivered to a physician anywhere in the country.
    • Suspected outbreaks of botulism are quickly investigated, and if they involve a commercial product, the appropriate control measures are coordinated among public health and regulatory agencies.
    • Physicians should report suspected cases of botulism to a state health department.
  • Botulism can be prevented.
  • Foodborne botulism outbreaks have been reported from home-canned foods with low acid content, such as asparagus, green beans, beets and corn.
  • Outbreaks have also been reported from commercial foods that were inadequately processed or contaminated after opening (chopped garlic in oil, chili peppers, cheese, tomatoes and improperly handled baked potatoes wrapped in aluminum foil).

For more information:

Page last reviewed: October 6, 2006