What is the prognosis of botulism?

Updated: Feb 15, 2019
  • Author: Kirk M Chan-Tack, MD; Chief Editor: Pranatharthi Haran Chandrasekar, MBBS, MD  more...
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Botulism due to type A toxin is generally more severe than that caused by type B or E.

Mortality rates vary based on the age of the patient and the type of botulism. Foodborne botulism carries an overall mortality rate of 5-10%. Botulism carries a higher mortality rate in patients older than 60 years than in younger patients. Wound botulism carries a mortality rate that ranges from 15-17%. The risk of death due to infant botulism is usually less than 1%.

The recovery period ranges from 30-100 days. Artificial respiratory support may be required for months in severe cases. Full neurologic recovery usually occurs. Hypoxic insults, although infrequent, can result in permanent deficits. Some patients experience residual weakness and autonomic dysfunction for as long as a year after disease onset.

Mortality is due to the following:

  • Delayed diagnosis and respiratory failure

  • Hospital complications such as nosocomial infections (usually pneumonia)

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