Botulism – United States
The Butte County Public Health Department announced on Friday that it is investigating a case of wound botulism suffered by a Butte County resident who injected drugs, including black tar heroin.
The department says a lab test to confirm the diagnosis is pending and the source of the heroin is unknown. Black tar heroin has been linked to other wound botulism cases and outbreaks connected to injection drug users so there is concern that the black tar heroin available in Butte County may be contaminated.
If confirmed, this would make the 3rd case this year.
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.
While you are here, help us with
Access to Essential Drugs
One third of children, women and men have no access to essential medicines, putting lives at risk. Hospitals frequently run out of medicines and other essential supplies. Our Med-Aid program connects hospitals with aid and ensures that they receive exactly what they need.
Access to Diagnostics
Much of today’s innovation is either not reaching or not suitable for people in developing countries.
Data to Improve Health
Faster and reactive systems to help provide lifesaving support to vulnerable communities.
Support our work. It only takes a minute but makes a world of difference!
With your help we can bring modern diagnostics and essential medicines to people in need, track disease outbreaks better and help prevent future pandemics.