Botulism – Tajikistan

November 9, 2021 – At least 9 cases of botulism was suspected in Muminabad, Tajikistan, The youngest of the cases is a 6-year-old and the oldest is 64-years-old. The genders for both and all cases are not mentioned and the ages for the other reported cases are not mentioned. All cases are from the same household. No deaths reported.

The origin of the botulism bacteria was identified in a homemade canned salad called "St. John’s Wort", according to the source. Individuals who consumed the canned contents reported signs of intoxication. All individuals were admitted to a medical facility for treatment as infection from botulism can be deadly if left untreated.

Officials strongly encourage individuals to practice effective and proper sanitation and disinfection of canned foods prior to use. They also advise consumers to avoid canned foods that show signs of spoilage. Any sign of blood poisoning should be reported immediately.

Photo: Clostridium botulinum.

Foodborne botulism is a severe intoxication caused by eating the preformed toxin present in contaminated food. It occurs when spores of bacterium Clostridium botulinum germinate and the organism is allowed to grow and produce toxin in food that is later eaten without sufficient heating or cooking to inactivate the spores. Botulinum toxin is one of the most potent neurotoxins known.

Typically in a few hours to several days after ingestion of the contaminated food, one will start to show the classic symptoms: blurred vision, dry mouth, and difficulty in swallowing. Gastrointestinal symptoms may or may not occur. If untreated, the paralysis can descend through the body starting at the face and working its way down.

Prevention is primarily by proper food preparation. The toxin, though not the organism, is destroyed by heating it to more than 85 C (185 F) for longer than 5 minutes. Honey can contain the organism, and for this reason, honey should not be fed to children under 12 months.

Globally, botulism is fairly rare, with approximately 1,000 cases yearly.

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