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J Infect Dis. 1997 Mar;175(3):633-7.

Endogenous antibody production to botulinum toxin in an adult with intestinal colonization botulism and underlying Crohn's disease.

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  • 1Foodborne and Diarrheal Diseases Branch, Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, USA.


A patient with obstruction of the terminal ileum from Crohn's disease developed complete paralysis in week 1 of hospitalization. Features initially suggested Guillain-Barre syndrome, but botulinum toxin was identified in serum and stool specimens from week 1 and type A toxin-producing Clostridium botulinum in stool specimens from weeks 3 to 19, confirming botulism due to intestinal colonization. In week 19, the inflamed small bowel was resected, and C. botulinum disappeared from the stool. In week 31, the patient was able to breath without assistance. Testing for an active immune response with neutralizing antibodies to C. botulinum at week 19 was positive; these antibodies remained at a protective level for >1 year. Intestinal colonization botulism, rare in adults, should be considered for patients with descending paralysis, especially those with a preceding alteration in small bowel function. An active immune response to botulinum toxin with production of protective antibodies has not been demonstrated previously in a patient with botulism and may have contributed to this patient's recovery.

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