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December 1963


Author Affiliations

Senior Associate in Medicine, Peter Bent Brigham Hospital; Associate in Neurology, Harvard Medical School; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Arch Neurol. 1963;9(6):652-660. doi:10.1001/archneur.1963.00460120102011

Botulism is an extremely rare, yet deadly, form of food poisoning. Because of the reputation of the botulinus toxin as the "most poisonous poison"1 known to man, it has long captivated the interest of laymen, scientists, and physicians.

Although cases of "sausage poisoning" were described as early as 1735, the first significant outbreak occurred in 1793 in Würtemberg. The term botulism (from the latin word Botulus, which means sausage) was applied to this syndrome. By 1802 the condition was so common that an official warning was published in Stuttgart, detailing symptoms and alerting the public to the danger of eating spoiled sausage. The many reports of the condition which followed Kerner's papers2 in 1820 and 1822 were the result of laws enacted requiring registration of cases of sausage poisoning within the kingdom of Würtemberg. It was soon realized that similar symptoms, on occasion, could be produced by ingestion

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