• Pulmonary complications of botulism were studied in an outbreak of 34 cases of type A botulism in New Mexico in 1978. Hospital record review, standardized questionnaires, and pulmonary function tests were used to define pulmonary complications during the acute illness and the patients' status one year later. Pulmonary involvement was documented in 81% of patients. Ventilatory failure occurred in 11, aspiration pneumonia in nine, and death in two patients. Difficulties in the diagnosis of ventilatory insufficiency were identified. At one year, most patients had residual symptoms, including easy fatigability in 68% and exertional dyspnea in 46%. However, only minor pulmonary function abnormalities were present. This study confirms the generally favorable prognosis of botulism and provides clinical guidance for the diagnosis and management of pulmonary complications in botulism.
(Arch Intern Med 1983;143:451-456)