A swollen can of beans - hopefully everyone knows not to even consider tasting it to see if it is bad. That taste is enough to kill.

Botulinum toxin from the bacterial organism named Clostridia causes - mostly - death. That horrible condition just before death is botulism. Chemically a very small protein, it blocks release of the neurotransmitter acetycholine and by that means the Calcium flood that muscle needs in order to be active. Activity increases the speed of onset of symptoms which means that the membrane activity of the neuron is what takes it in. Absent acetycholine release, a condition follows that looks quite like myasthenia

Initial symptoms are gastrointestinal discomforture, then inability to focus and converge the eyes with blurred vision, progressive weakness around the mouth and throat then respiratory failure.Infantile botulism:

Infantile Botulism : A similar picture in infants who havs had poor feeding, constipation, and hypotonia (floppy) who were not previously that way suggests botulism. The most common source is honey. It is common and misinformed practice to quiet babies by putting honey on a nipple. That's all it takes. The gastrointestinal tract of infants is quite anerobic and very favorable to growth of Clostridia botulinum organisms.

You don't need a big can of beans dose of already formed toxin. The organism in small innoculation can grow in the gut to toxic levels - thus the longer onset and additional signs. But it can also be fast. Some SIDS babies are in fact botulism caused - some. Treatment is medical with antitoxins and system support. One of the several toxins produced by this organism is now used, as medical treatment, in very tiny doses injected directly into certain target muscles. The toxin blocks nerve impulses from activating muscles


          Nerve_Cell========< :::: |:::|      \
                                                     / |:::|      - Muscle cell
                                Transmitter   |:::|     /

 The toxin blocks the signal chemical from being released by the nerve. Thus the muscle does not respond.

There is a section on Botulinum Toxin