Botulism – Ukraine
A 74-year-old man died from Botulism after eating a substandard canned homemade pork meat in Rivne Region, Ukraine.
The man suffered from cold-like symptoms as well as bilateral pneumonia, but botulism was confirmed in a laboratory. Other symptoms included visual disturbances, drooping eyelids, general and muscle weakness. The infection was traced back to a homemade meal of canned meat.
The man died in hospital even after a botulinum antitoxin was administered.
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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