Botulism is a rare but serious paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin that is produced by the bacterium Clostridium Botulinum. This toxin is broadly considered to be the most powerful neurotoxin currently known. There are three main kinds of botulism, one of which is foodborne botulism caused by eating foods that contain the botulism toxin. Foodborne botulism can be especially dangerous as many people can be poisoned by consuming a shared contaminated foodsource. All forms of botulism can be fatal and are considered medical emergencies, often resulting in death secondary to respiratory failure if not treated. Good supportive care in a hospital, involving surgery, artificial ventilation and antitoxin administration is common for the treatment of all forms of Botulism.
Botulism toxin is also used in a variety of cosmetic procedures (wrinkle and line reduction for example) and is known by the trade name "Botox". It also has genuine medical uses such as the treatment of muscle spasms, excess sweating and chronic migranes.