Clostridium botulinum: an increasing complication of heroin misuse

Jamie G Cooper, Cord E Spilke, Miles Denton, Stuart Jamieson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Wound botulism is a rare infectious disease due to neurotoxin release from the anaerobic, spore-forming bacterium Clostridium botulinum that is becoming an ever more frequent complication of parenteral drug abuse in the Western world. Before the year 2000, no such cases had been reported in the UK and Ireland, but since then the number of proven and suspected cases of wound botulism occurring in parenteral drug users has increased markedly. The diagnosis is often difficult, based on a high degree of clinical suspicion and if not considered in the initial differential diagnosis, then considerable delays in treatment may result. This is the case report of a male heroin user who presented three times to an Emergency Department in the UK before a diagnosis of wound botulism was made and treatment commenced. It is important that emergency clinicians are aware of the possibility of wound botulism in parenteral drug users that present with unusual neurological or respiratory symptomatology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-252
Number of pages2
JournalEuropean journal of emergency medicine
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2005


  • Adult
  • Botulinum Antitoxin
  • Botulism
  • Clostridium botulinum
  • Heroin
  • Humans
  • Injections, Subcutaneous
  • Male
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous


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