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Two cases of foodborne botulism with home-preserved asparagus.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine II, Central Hospital of Bolzano, Italy.


Botulism is a rare but potentially fatal disease caused by toxins produced by Clostridium botulinum. We report botulism in two adult females, one of them just tasting from "bad" asparagus and the other eating the full portion. Both patients survived after intermittent mechanical ventilation and trivalent antitoxin administration. The diagnosis was confirmed by detection of botulinum toxin. Acute onset of bilateral cranial neuropathies associated with symmetric descending weakness as well as some key features of the botulism syndrome including absence of fever, symmetric neurologic deficits, the patients remaining responsive and no sensory deficits, with the exception of blurred vision, led to the clinical diagnosis in the first presenting case which was then easily made in the second. Despite the fact that amount of toxin ingested, time-to-symptom development, and time-to-recovery markedly differed in the two patients, their maximal disease severity was similar.

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