Botulism, a food-borne toxin-mediated disease caused by is still a common disease, which is most frequent in the rural environment; 108 cases, 66 males and 42 females, average age 32 years, were recorded from 1965 to 1990 in the infectious disease department of the University Hospital of Poitiers (France). In 83% of patients, the food responsible was home-cured ham. Mean incubation time was 3.4 days; digestive symptoms were observed in 93 % of cases, ocular symptoms in 92 % and urinary tract dysfunction in 22%. A scale of severity was used to classify the patients into those suffering from severe (6), intermediate (50) and mild (52) forms of the disease. Botulinum toxin type B was found in 36 (52%) of 69 blood samples and in 41 (51%) of 81 samples of the suspected food. From 1965 to 1976, 44 patients were treated with both toxoid and heterologous equine serotherapy. Since 1976, 29 patients have been treated with guanidine hydrochloride (35 mg/kg daily) and 35 patients with guanidine hydrochloride plus heterologous serotherapy. All 108 patients recovered without any sequelae.


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