The deadliest poison in the world is botulinum, the toxic substance produce by the bacterium responsible for botulism, one of the most severe types of food poisoning. If this toxin sounds familiar, it is because it is the same substance used in Botox anti-wrinkle injections. In its pure form, botulinum is so potent that 1 teaspoon is enough to kill 1.2 billion people. Some argue that although it is the most potent poison, botulinum is not as deadly as other poisons because it takes a little while to kill, and during that time, countermeasures can be taken to save a person’s life.
Botulinum is a protein produced naturally by the Clostridium botulinum bacterium. It is classified as a neurotoxin. About 25 percent of people die who are naturally exposed to botulinum. This may seem low for the deadliest poison, but this is because most people are exposed to very little amounts and many receive emergency medical care.
When botulinum is introduced into the body, it begins to affect the muscles, causing weakness and paralysis. Other early symptoms include blurry vision, slurred speech and dry mouth. Eventually, the poison reaches the chest muscles and the diaphragm, which are required for breathing, and death results from asphyxiation.
Several other deadly poisons exist, and some say they are deadlier than botulinum because they are quicker. Here are a few other poisons that vie for the top spot as world’s deadliest:
• Dart frog poison – This venom is created by a species of colorful frogs in the Amazon rain forest. Natives have used the poison to tip weapons such as blowgun darts made of thorns for centuries.
• Potassium Cyanide – Cyanide is one of the most notorious poisons, and it is considered very lethal because of how fast it acts. A teaspoon of pure cyanide can kill a person within 20 second through asphyxiation.
• Amatoxin – This poison is found in a type of mushroom. It is known for its hardiness. It does not lose potency due to heat, mixing with water or drying. It works by shutting down the liver.
• Ricin – Ricin is a poison that is found in castor beans. It can be extracted and used in weapons of mass destruction. It works by making the body’s cells unable to manufacture proteins, and they eventually die one-by-one. It has also been used successfully in the assassination of political figures.
• Dimethylmercury – This is a man-made poison that can be absorbed directly through the skin. It can take several months for symptoms to appear, but death is usually inevitable.
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