BMJ Case Reports 2010; doi:10.1136/bcr.05.2010.3038
  • Rare disease

The hazards of honey: infantile botulism

  1. Kenneth McWilliam4
  1. 1Department of Paediatrics, RHSC Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  2. 2PICU, RHSC Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  3. 3Department of Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, RHSC Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  4. 4Department of Neurology, RHSC Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  1. Correspondence to Jennifer K Smith, jennifer.k.smith{at}


Infantile botulism is a rare cause of neuromuscular weakness resulting from ingestion of Clostridium botulinum—an anaerobic Gram-positive bacillus found universally in soil. The only definite food source known to cause infantile botulism is honey; previously, links to formula milk have been postulated but not definitely sourced. We present an interesting case report of a 2-month-old infant with this rare condition, including the diagnostic difficulties that ensued. A brief overview of the condition follows. This is the first case in the UK in which C botulinum was successfully isolated from both the patient and the suspected source—a jar of honey. The importance of food labelling as a public health message is highlighted.


  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

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