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Infant Botulism in 1931:  Discovery of a Misclassified Case

STEPHEN S. ARNON, MD; S. BENSON WERNER, MD; HAROLD K. FABER, MD; WALTER H. FARR, MD
Am J Dis Child. 1979;133(6):580-582. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1979.02130060020002.
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The identification in 1976 in California of infants with botulism (for references, see the companion article in this issue, p 586) prompted a review of state records of all 603 officially classified cases known to have occurred in California between 1899 and 1976. None of these cases occurred in an infant; the youngest case found was that of a 15-month-old child who became ill as part of a common-source outbreak of food-borne botulism.

As part of our efforts to elucidate the pathogenesis of infant botulism, we noted that milk products have rarely been associated with food-borne botulism1 even though pasteurization does not kill Clostridium botulinum spores.2 Because milk is the principal food of infants, we therefore undertook in 1978 a further review of all reported food-borne botulism cases linked to milk products. One such case that occurred in California in 1931 was listed as "suspected botulism" in Dr

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