Botulism is the most common name given to the clinical presentation that arises in animals exposed to Clostridium botulinum neurotoxins. Other names include “limberneck”, “Western duck sickness”, “duck disease”, and “alkali poisoning”. C. botulinum is a large, Gram-positive anaerobic rod that is found in the environment most commonly as a spore. The species is organised into four groups based on toxin type and proteolytic ability.
The genes that encode for botulinum toxins are chromosomal, located on plasmids, or obtained from bacteriophages. There are seven distinct toxins, A-F, and bacterial toxinotypes are named according to the toxin they produce (e.g., C. botulinum toxinotype A produces botulinum toxin A) after germinating. That is, the bacterial spores do not actively produce toxin.