Viewing a single comment thread. View all comments

WardStradlater t1_j68o8g5 wrote

So the exact reason behind why isn’t 100% understood, in fact it took ages to figure out which foods were more likely linked to infant botulism (like honey) and is just a very easy thing to eliminate from infants diets to lower the risk. Infants aren’t born with a developed GI flora of good bacteria which help defend itself, instead their intestines are basically ready to develop their flora by being exposed to good bacteria that can colonize and develop a defense network, thus when the spores are introduced to an infants GI tract, they’re far more likely to colonize and take over in an infant and begin producing the actual botulism toxin that causes infant botulism. An adult’s flora is well developed and the spores don’t have a chance to colonize and begin producing this toxin in the intestines before being destroyed.

However, adults can still get botulism but this is because they eat food that doesn’t just have the spores there, it’s because they’re eating food that has already had the botulism colonize in it, thus it’s already a colonized/grown and heavily present with the actual botulism toxin that the bacteria colonies produce. Nearly anyone that ingests food already colonized with botulism bacteria is going to end up with foodborne-botulism regardless of age of intestinal flora development. An infant is just more susceptible to infant botulism because their intestines are susceptible to allowing the spores to begin colonizing, producing botulism bacteria, and having the botulism toxin produced inside of them.


marmosetohmarmoset t1_j69bn9x wrote

So would an adult who has been on an extremely heavy course of antibiotics also be more susceptible to botulism? Similar to how they’re more vulnerable to things like C. diff?


WardStradlater t1_j69dng1 wrote

They would be more likely to experience botulism from colonized food that had a lower amount of bacteria that was already colonized yes, but from just the minute amount of spores found in SOME types of honey? Probably not. It may be possible but certainly not common. Antibiotics don’t completely remove the bacterial flora from your intestines, nor do they really change the other natural defenses the body builds up in the GI Tract other than just the flora. Sure, antibiotics kill a large number of your healthy intestinal bacteria which makes it easier for opportunistic bacteria like C. diff to take over, but they don’t completely wipe everything out. I have not heard of a case of an adult being confirmed to have been colonized by botulism from spores found in honey to the point where it actually colonized internally and began secreting the toxin. But if your flora is messed up you are certainly more susceptible to any bacterial colonization that Is consumed.


Gerryislandgirl t1_j6db47r wrote

I just want to point out that an infant given antibiotics is at greater risk.