Which clinical history findings are characteristic of wound botulism?

Updated: Feb 15, 2019
  • Author: Kirk M Chan-Tack, MD; Chief Editor: Pranatharthi Haran Chandrasekar, MBBS, MD  more...
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Patients with wound botulism typically have a history of traumatic injury with wounds that are contaminated with soil.

Since 1994, the number of patients with wound botulism who have a history of chronic intravenous drug abuse has increased dramatically. In most cases, black-tar heroin has been the implicated vehicle. A study by Yuan et al followed 17 heroin users who had recurrent botulism after using black-tar heroin. Physicians need to be alert to recognize botulism, especially in patients who use black-tar heroin or in those with a history of injection drug–associated botulism. [4]

Rare cases of wound botulism after cesarean delivery have been documented.

Aside from a longer incubation period, wound botulism is similar to foodborne botulism. The incubation period of wound botulism ranges from 4-14 days, with a mean of 10 days. Unlike foodborne botulism, wound botulism causes no gastrointestinal symptoms. Patients may be febrile, but this is more likely due to the wound infection rather than the wound botulism. In many cases, the wound appears benign.

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