County of Los Angeles
Department of Public Health
Acute Communicable Disease Control
313 N. Figueroa Street, Room 212
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone: (213) 240-7941
Fax: (213) 482-4856
Infant botulism is managed by the California Department of Public Health; contact Infant
Botulism Treatment and Prevention Program (IBTPP) on-call physician at (510) 231-7600.
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 the botulinum bacteria, which then grow in
the intestines and release toxin; it is correctly called intestinal botulism, and rarely may
also occur in older children and adults. Botulism toxin is also a potential bioterrorism agent
that theoretically could be released in food or drink, or as an airborne agent. All forms of
botulism can be fatal and are considered medical emergencies. Foodborne botulism can be
especially dangerous because many people can be poisoned by eating a contaminated food.