Spread of Clostridium botulinum in the soils of Georgia


  • Ekaterine Zhorzholiani National Center for Disease Control and Public Health, Tbilisi, Georgia
  • Neli Chakvetadze National Center for Disease Control and Public Health, Tbilisi, Georgia
  • Guram Katsitadze National Center for Disease Control and Public Health, Tbilisi, Georgia
  • Paata Imnadze National Center for Disease Control and Public Health, Tbilisi, Georgia




ObjectiveThe main focus of this study was to study the spread of botulism inGeorgia and the biological characteristics of the strains ofClostridiumbotulinumisolated from territories in the country.IntroductionAccumulation ofC. botulinumin soil occurs through excretion ofbacterial spores from the intestines of humans, animals, birds andfish. In Georgia, during the winter season, the population consumeshomemade vegetable preserves, which are made of locally produced(as well as imported) vegetables. Historical surveys confirmed that thepresence ofC. botulinumin the soil is widespread. Some researchersconsiderC. botulinuma characteristic component of soil flora.MethodsSoil samples were collected from areas, where from 2001-2002cases of botulism caused by homemade vegetable preserves (producedfrom vegetables cultivated in those areas) were registered. Soilsamples were collected from Kakheti, Shida Kartli, Kvemo Kartli,Samtkhe-Javakheti, and Samegrelo regions. Standard bacteriologyand PCR were used to confirm the presence ofC. botulinumfrom soilsamples. Separation of strains and their examination was conducted inaccordance with the scheme provided by the CDC Atlanta ReferenceLaboratory (USA), which was later tested by NCDC. Toxigenicityand toxin production of strains were tested using a biotest on whitemice.ResultsIn total, 258 soil samples were tested, from which, 40 (15.5%)cultures ofC. botulinumtype B were obtained. Toxigenicity andtoxin production were confirmed through biotests. These resultsconfirm the presence ofC. botulinumin agricultural lands, whichcauses contamination of vegetables cultivated on those lands, whichare used for the preparation of homemade preserves, causing botulismin humans.ConclusionsFor the purpose of finding solutions to botulism, it is essentialto verify the ecology of the pathogen through establishing theprevalence of bacteria in different soil types. It was shown that someareas of Georgia, where vegetable growing is greatly developed, andwhich, are the main sources of crops, are highly contaminated withC. botulinum. In Georgia, land used for agriculture is contaminatedwithC. botulinum.C. botulinumtype B was isolated from 40 culturesobtained from 258 soil samples, which represents contamination in15.5% of sampled areas. These results suggest that vegetables andmelons may be highly contaminated as well. All cases ofC. botulinumin humans that were researched were connected to homemade cannedvegetables.




How to Cite

Zhorzholiani, E., Chakvetadze, N., Katsitadze, G., & Imnadze, P. (2017). Spread of Clostridium botulinum in the soils of Georgia. Online Journal of Public Health Informatics, 9(1). https://doi.org/10.5210/ojphi.v9i1.7754



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