A potato salad might not be as innocent as one should think. The picnic that took place on the 19th of April, 2015 at Cross Pointe Free Will Baptist Church proved this well, as it led to a botulism outbreak. Officials from the Health Department determined that that the cause was a batch of home-canned potatoes brought and served at the potluck picnic.
The results were revealed after samples of this dish were taken from trash cans and analyzed in the lab. Sickened people were also interviewed and it was made clear that everyone had eaten servings of this dish.
State officials and health officials from Ohio joined their forces to establish what caused the outbreak. A medical director for the Fairfield Department of Health, Dr. Mark Aebi felt the need to express is compassion for the victims:
“This is a difficult time for our community, and our thoughts and prayers are with the affected individuals and their families.”
On Wednesday, the 29th of April there were 21 confirmed cases and 10 suspected cases of botulism in Lancaster, Ohio, according to Shannon Libby, Ohio Department of Health spokesperson. Their ages vary from 9 to 87. Some of them are still at the hospital and their condition is far from being stable.
The treatment administered to them consisted of an antioxin that was supplied by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One of the people who became ill, a woman, died shortly after being diagnosed. Her name was Kennetha “Kim” Shaw and she was 54 years old.
According to health officials, outbreaks of botulism occur every year (about 145). 15 percent of them spread from home-canned foods.
Thus, representatives of health departments prompt people to use either a cooker or a pressure canner to can food, in order to annihilate the germ that could lead to botulism.
Botulism is a rare but sometimes fatal disease that can be provoked by a bacteria called Clostridium botulinum, which releases a very dangerous toxin, which is often found in food. Botulism is not contagious. Among its symptoms, the most relevant are difficulty in swallowing, , weakness of the legs, arms, chest muscles, respiratory failure, paralysis and double vision.
These symptoms might occur anytime between 12 and 36 hours after ingesting the contaminated virus. The main treatment employed in these cases is the administration of an antitoxin (human botulinum immunoglobulin).
Image Source: Kitchendaily