The Dangers of Botulism
There are a variety of parasites and bacteria that can cause foodborne illnesses. However, one of the most serious is a bacteria known as Clostridium botulinum, which creates a toxin that attacks the body’s nerves and can cause muscle paralysis, difficulty breathing, and even death. Botulism can have devastating consequences, leaving those who are stricken to struggle with recovery in addition to paying off mounting medical bills. If you are suffering from botulism or another foodborne illness, you should consider consulting with a personal injury attorney who can help you seek compensation for your losses.
What is Botulism?
The bacteria that makes the botulinum toxin grows in low-oxygen, low acid, and low sugar environments. For instance, improperly canning, preserving, or fermenting foods can lead to the growth of botulinum toxins, which if ingested, can cause the following symptoms:
- Muscle weakness;
- Blurred or double vision;
- Slurred speech;
- Difficulty swallowing;
- Dry mouth; and
- Drooping eyelids.
All of these symptoms are the result of muscle paralysis caused by the toxin and if left untreated can progress to paralyze the muscles used in breathing, as well as those in the torso, legs, and arms. When botulism has been spread via contaminated food, symptoms usually begin manifesting between 18 and 36 hours after eating, although symptoms can begin as early as six hours or as late as ten days after consumption.
Before a doctor will officially diagnose a person with botulism, he or she will conduct a number of tests, including:
- A brain scan;
- An examination of the patient’s spinal fluid;
- Nerve and muscle function tests;
- Tensilon tests; and
- Laboratory tests.
If these tests indicate that a person is suffering from botulism, doctors will begin giving the patient an antitoxin, which prevents the botulism toxin from doing any more harm. Unfortunately, this treatment cannot heal damage that a toxin has already done. In severe cases in which a patient is suffering from respiratory failure as a result of the paralysis of the muscles that aid in breathing, doctors may also place a patient on a ventilator. Although it depends on the severity of the symptoms, treatment could keep a patient in the hospital for weeks or even months. Even after receiving treatment, patients could suffer from shortness of breath and fatigue for years. Long-term therapy can go a long way towards eliminating these symptoms.
Treating botulism is expensive and can leave patients struggling with medical debt and household expenses, so it is especially important for those who are suffering from botulism as a result of a manufacturer’s sale of contaminated food or drink to seek compensation from the at-fault parties by filing a personal injury lawsuit against them in court.
Get Legal Advice Today
Please call 737-201-0543 to speak with one of the dedicated personal injury attorneys at Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C. who can evaluate your case. Initial consultations are conducted free of charge, so please do not hesitate to call or contact us online.