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    Wound botulism (WB) is an uncommon but severe neuromuscular illness caused by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum in an infected wound. There has been a dramatic increase in WB associated with black tar heroin injection in California. A 50-year-old male with heroin abuse presented to the emergency department with a 2-day history of dysphagia and dysarthria. Physical examination revealed slurred speech, inability to manipulate tongue, and slowed eye movements. The patient was also noted to have progressive weakness during hospitalization. Laboratory findings were unremarkable, and further workup, including a computerized tomography scan of the head and soft neck tissue, showed no abnormal findings. Given the history of heroin abuse in Southern California and findings on physical examination, a diagnosis of WB needed to be considered as the differential. The Department of Health was contacted, and treatment was initiated with botulism antitoxin and metronidazole. Despite the treatment, the patient's condition did not improve, and the patient died. The resulting diagnosis was confirmed by C. botulism toxin A found in his serum a few days after the patient died. Progressive cranial nerve palsy with symmetric descending paralysis with heroin abuse should raise the suspicion of WB and require prompt diagnosis and treatment. This case highlights raising awareness of the disease could help lead to early diagnosis and treatment. © Copyright 2021 by the American Board of Family Medicine.


    Hiroshi T Suzuki, Hari Reddy. Cranial Nerve Palsy Secondary to Botulism After Black Tar Heroin Use. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine : JABFM. 2021 Jul-Aug;34(4):808-810

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    PMID: 34312272

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