Botulism antitoxin

If food-borne botulism is diagnosed early, it can be treated with an antitoxin, a substance that blocks the action of toxins circulating in the blood. This antitoxin can prevent the condition from getting worse, but recovery still takes many weeks.

You should receive the antitoxin as soon as possible. However, it still may be beneficial to start treatment even several weeks after becoming ill, because the antitoxin may possibly slow or halt further progression of the disease.

It's important to weigh the risks of treatment against potential benefits. The botulism antitoxin is manufactured from horse serum, so developing a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) or serum sickness is possible.

Currently, botulism antitoxin is not routinely given to infants younger than 1 year of age. But there is a treatment for this group. Botulism immune globulin (BabyBIG) can be used to treat botulism in infants younger than 1 year old.

Last Updated: February 23, 2009

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