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BOTULISM Vaccine Program 2013 

Volunteering in a clinical trial provides a valuable service to your community

Botulism refers to the condition where absorption of toxin into the bloodstream produced by the bacteria, Clostridium botulinum, causes muscle paralysis starting from the head down leading to potential disability and death. The bacteria pass either through ingestion of contaminated food or drink, wound exposure, or more worrisome for the general population, through inhalation—resulting from most likely weaponized-aerosolized delivery¹.

The ability to deliver a difficult-to-treat infection on a mass scale represents a potential public health nightmare. Some of the most feared infections that could be used by terrorists are botulism, anthrax, smallpox and the plague. Part of the national preparedness strategy includes vaccinating at least those most at risk for exposure while also stockpiling enough vaccine supply for use in the event of an attack. Jacksonville Center for Clinical Research participated in the development of the updated smallpox vaccine and Dr. Jacqmein’s team at JCCR has recently been selected to help test a new vaccine for botulism.

There is currently no commercially available immunization against botulism. Equine (horse) derived antitoxin is available in limited supply for those infected with botulism, but because antitoxin doesn’t reverse any of the existing paralysis, it is important to start therapy as soon as the diagnosis is made.³ We are now recruiting volunteers between the ages of 18 to 55 to participate in a clinical trial where over 6,000 people nationwide will receive either immunization against botulism or placebo. Patients will receive the vaccine, labs and physical exams at no cost and will be provided compensation for time and travel.

Although botulism infection does not travel from person-to-person, high priority is given to protecting those whose role it is to help others—such as decision makers, firefighters, logistics personnel, teachers, medical staff, paramedics and rescue workers, public safety and law enforcement. Please call the JCCR recruiting team at (904) 730-0166 to find out more about this important program.


  1. http://www.upmchealthsecurity.org/website/our_work/biological-threats-and-epidemics/fact_sheets/botulinum.html
  2. http://www.cdc.gov/nczved/divisions/dfbmd/diseases/botulism/
  3. Botulism Toxin as a Biological Weapon, Medical and Public Health Management. Stephen S. Arnon, MD et al. for the Working Group on Civilian Defense. JAMA, February 28, 2001—Vol 285, No. 8. 1059
Posted by Amy Autry Bush Monday, September 30, 2013 4:23:00 PM Categories: Breakthroughs

Learning the Lyrics 

My youngest son plays baseball. The February of his freshman year in college, I traveled to watch a scrimmage game. As with most ballparks, music would play between innings, and I was immediately struck by the song selections - mostly songs about pick-up trucks, sweet tea, windows rolled down and fried chicken....I didn't recognize any of them. As I was wondering who in the world was making these musical selections, I glanced around at the other fans huddled in the stands and they ALL appeared to be singing along! Obviously, I was the one missing out.

Later that night, I asked my son how he was getting along, and he told me that he was fitting in just fine. Then I happened to remark about the music at the ball field and he told me that he too knew all the lyrics.

Learning the lyrics is about fitting in. How much more comfortable do we feel when the tune is familiar and we know what comes next? I've thought about that in a much broader sense than just music, and feel that it can be a metaphor for many life experiences.

In clinical research, each program is carefully designed and planned out to the smallest detail. Each visit and procedure, dose and measurement, is scheduled and calculated before the first person is ever enrolled into the study. Potential participants are a vital part of a process where questions are encouraged and the program is thoroughly explained all along the way. All of this leads to a familiarity which gives comfort and ease about what comes next. We don't promote surprises, we promote collaboration, and to that end we like to ensure that we're all singing along to the same song.


Posted by Amy Autry Bush Monday, September 30, 2013 2:46:00 PM Categories: Musings