How is botulism diagnosed?

To diagnose botulism, doctors do a physical exam. They check for weak or paralyzed muscles. Similar symptoms occur in other conditions including stroke and Guillain-Barre syndrome. Doctors may need to do further testing to make sure it is botulism.

To confirm the diagnosis, your doctor can conduct a test that shows the toxin is present in your blood, stool or vomit. Suspected food samples can also be tested for the toxin. Other tests include nerve conduction studies (EMG). Because the results of these tests can take several days, doctors often begin treatment right away before the test results are back.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/14/2018.

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