Essay by elusive_butterflyHigh School, 11th gradeA+, June 2008

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Random Facts:Botulism is a virulent form of food poisoning; the toxin is so potent that just half a pound (225 grams) could kill everyone in the world.

There are usually fewer than 20 cases in Canada a year ('Fatality rate of C. botulinum cases in Canada is as low as five to ten per cent' (Canadian Food Inspection Agency)The number of yearly cases has dropped to about 1,000 worldwide (Medicine Net)The neurotoxin botulinum has been used as a murder weapon; people have attempted to kill or seriously harm other individuals. (Medicine Net)Many people inject a dilute form of this poisonous toxin to reduce or stop wrinkles in the skin, known as 'botox'. Wrinkles are caused by repeated normal muscle contractions, if there are no contractions, there will also be no wrinkles! (Medicine Net)Mouse Inoculation TestA blood or stool sample from a patient is inserted into the peritoneal cavity of mice.

An equal amount of sample is treated with the botulinum antitoxin and is injected into a different mouse. If the mouse that had the untreated sample dies and the mouse with the sample treated with antitoxin lives, then the test is positive for botulism. (Medicine Net)Bacterial CausationBotulism is caused by the Clostridium botulinum bacteria. This strain of bacteria is anaerobic and so forms spores when it is in an aerobic environment. By creating spores, the bacteria go into a resting phase and are able to survive through unfavourable conditions such as extreme hot or cold temperatures, radiation, or in this case the presence of oxygen. The spores of this bacterium are able to survive boiling and are only eliminated by cooking the food in a pressure cooker at 120 °C for fifteen minutes. The spores themselves are not harmful; when they start to germinate they begin to cause...