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Botulism is a rare but serious paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin that is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum.

There are three main kinds of botulism. Foodborne botulism is caused by eating foods that contain the botulism toxin. Wound botulism is caused by toxin produced from a wound infected with Clostridium botulinum. Infant botulism is caused by consuming the spores of Clostridium botulinum, which then grow in the intestines and release toxin. All forms of botulism can be fatal and are considered medical emergencies.

Disease Reporting

What is required?

Health care providers and clinical laboratories:
Health care providers and clinical laboratories are required to report cases and suspect cases of botulism to local health departments immediately, day or night.

See our disease reporting page for information on how to report and for telephone numbers of local health departments.

Disease reporting form (pdf) for health-care practitioners

For county health departments:
Botulism: Investigative guidelines (pdf)

Botulism: Case Report Form (pdf)

See Also