Acta Med. 2005, 48: 23-28

Botulism and Bioterrorism: How Serious is This Problem?

Jiří Patočkaa,b, Miroslav Špliňoc,d, Vladimír Měrkae

aUniversity of Defence, Faculty of Military Health Sciences, Department of Toxicology, Hradec Králové, Czech Republic
bUniversity of South Bohemia, Faculty of Health and Social Studies, Department of Radiology and Toxicology, České Budějovice, Czech Republic
cUniversity Hospital Hradec Králové, Department of Clinical Microbiology, Hradec Králové, Czech Republic
dUniversity of Defence, Faculty of Military Health Sciences, Department of Epidemiology, Hradec Králové, Czech Republic
eUniversity of Defence, Faculty of Military Health Sciences, Centre of Information Technologies, Hradec Králové, Czech Republic

Received October 1, 2004
Accepted December 1, 2004

Botulism is a potentially lethal disease caused by one of seven homologous neurotoxic proteins usually produced by the bacterium, Clostridium botulinum. This neuromuscular disorder occurs through an exquisite series of molecular events, ultimately ending with the arrest of acetylcholine release and hence, flaccid paralysis. There are three types of botulism: food, wound, and infant botulism. Most strains of the bacterium produce a potent, respiratory muscle-paralyzing neurotoxin, botulinum toxin (BTX). It can lead to death unless appropriate therapy is promptly initiated. Due to the severity and potency of BTX, its importance as a biological weapon is of major concern to public health officials. Nevertheless, BTX is also medicament.


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