Botulism is a rare but potentially fatal illness caused by a neurotoxin produced by Clostridium botulinum. The management of suspected botulism patients requires a coordinated effort between healthcare providers and local health departments (LHD), the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The treatment for botulism, heptavalent botulinum antitoxin (BAT), is stored at CDC quarantine stations. BAT can stop the progression of the paralysis and is provided by the CDC at no cost, but the hospital is responsible for transport of the BAT from the quarantine station. Botulism is considered to be a medical and public health emergency and must be immediately reported to CDPH. CDPH is available 24/7 to provide consultation and release of BAT.
California has the highest rate of wound botulism in the United States. However, botulism remains a rare illness, and in many instances, diagnosis may be delayed or missed due to lack of provider recognition of botulism as the potential cause of illness.
If the LHD is notified of a potential botulism case, contact CDPH:
For detailed information about reporting and botulism case investigation guidelines, please see:
CDPH Infectious Diseases Branch (IDB) Guidance for Managing Botulism (Non-Infant) (PDF)