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Botulism Blog

Surveillance & Analysis on Botulism News & Outbreaks

Jarred Salsa from Ohio Recalled Over Botulism Risk

Jose-Madrid-salsa-jar-200x300-200x300Jose Madrid Salsa of Zanesville, OH, has recalled its mild salsa because the jars are not properly sealed and therefore present a health risk. Improperly sealed jars can lead to product spoilage or contamination by the bacteria that cause botulism.

Jose Madrid salsa jar lids may have been convex instead of vacuum sealed, according to the company. Compromised seals or seams could result in product contamination by spoilage organisms or pathogens and may lead to illness if consumed. These jars were distributed in the Zanesville and Baltimore, MD, areas.

Approximately 96 jars of product sold are involved in this recall. Individual jars will show product lot code:

601 0101
04/20/16

There have been no reports to date of any illness associated with these products.

31 Botulism Cases in Ohio

Based on laboratory tests and interviews with potluck attendees, public health officials have concluded that potato salad made with home-canned potatoes is the likely cause of a foodborne botulism outbreak following a church potluck in Lancaster on April 19.

Botulism is a rare but serious paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin that is produced by certain kinds of bacteria.

As of today, there are 21 confirmed cases of botulism associated with this outbreak, including one death. There are 10 suspected cases in which the individuals are exhibiting symptoms consistent with botulism. Patients have been treated with a botulism antitoxin provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and 12 remain hospitalized.

“This is a difficult time for our community, and our thoughts and prayers are with the affected individuals and their families,” said Mark Aebi, M.D., Health Commissioner & Medical Director for Fairfield Department of Health. “I want to thank our staff for their dedication and hard work during this outbreak as well as the tremendous support we have received from ODH and the CDC. FMC’s rapid assessment and participation in this response has been invaluable as well.”

Mary DiOrio, M.D., Medical Director of the Ohio Department of Health, noted the local, state and federal collaboration in responding to the outbreak. The response involved public health including Fairfield Department of Health, Ohio Department of Health, and CDC, as well as central Ohio hospitals including Fairfield Medical Center.

“I want to thank my colleagues in these public health agencies and hospitals for the tremendous work that they have done to treat individuals who have been sickened, and to investigate and control the outbreak,” she said.

Ohio Church Potluck Turns Deadly

One person is dead, and 24 others are being treated for botulism at Fairfield Medical Center.

Health officials say all of the people who are ill attended a potluck at Cross Pointe Free Will Baptist Church Sunday.

Health officials report 50 to 60 people attended the potluck.

Botulism is a rare paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin, and can be foodborne. The hospital says a neurologist determined a patient had botulism Tuesday morning, and a short time later, two other cases were identified. All of the patients came in to the Emergency Department at Fairfield Medical Center, but the hospital says several have been transferred to other medical facilities.

All of the people affected had symptoms that included double vision, blurred vision, difficulty swallowing, and blurred vision. Doctors are working on getting an anti-toxin from the Centers for Disease Control to treat the patients.

The Fairfield Medical Center is reminding the community that botulism is not contagious, so there is no threat to the community. But medical officials are encouraging anyone who was at the potluck to come to the emergency department. The medical center has also set up an emergency hotline to answer questions at 740-687-8053.

“Dry Bream-lesh (fish)” Recalled Over Botulism Risk

The New York Department of Agriculture today warned consumers not to eat “Dry Bream-lesh (fish)” sold by Tatuka Inc. of Brooklyn, NY, and distributed by Royal Sweet Bakery, also of Brooklyn, because the product was found to be uneviscerated.

Dried fish labelThe “Dry Bream-lesh (fish)” was sold from retail stores to consumers in the NYC metro area. The product was packaged in a clear, vacuum-packed, flexible plastic pouch and offered for sale at refrigerated temperatures. The product is coded with a “Best before: 01:08:2015” date and is a product of Russia.

Uneviscerated processed fish is prohibited under New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets’ regulations because Clostridium botulinum spores are more likely to be concentrated in the viscera than any other portion of the fish.

Because this fish product is uneviscerated, the product may be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum spores, which can cause botulism, a serious and potentially fatal foodborne illness. Symptoms of botulism include blurred or double vision, general weakness, poor reflexes, difficulty swallowing, and respiratory paralysis.

The “dry bream-lesh (fish)” was found by New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets food inspectors during a routine inspection of the retail firm. Subsequent analysis by New York State Food Laboratory personnel confirmed the product to be uneviscerated.

No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with the product. Consumers who have this product are advised not to eat it.

New Mexico Department of Health Investigates Botulism Cases

The New Mexico Department of Health is cooperating with the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on an investigation of two patients who are hospitalized in Texas with suspected botulism. The source is currently being investigated but is likely contaminated food. The patients are two adults from Lea County.

Botulism is a rare but potentially fatal illness caused by a nerve toxin that causes paralysis. All healthcare providers should consider botulism in patients presenting with the following signs and symptoms:

Double vision
Blurred vision
Drooping eyelids
Slurred speech
Difficulty swallowing
Dry mouth
Muscle weakness/descending paralysis
Difficulty breathing/shortness of breath

If untreated, these symptoms may progress to cause paralysis of the respiratory muscles, arms, legs, and trunk with subsequent death. Physicians should consider the diagnosis if physical examination suggest botulism.

The New Mexico Department of Health recommends:

If you or someone you know experiences any of the symptoms listed above immediately seek professional medical care.

All clinicians be alert for cases of botulism and consult New Mexico Department of Health for all suspect cases.

Report any suspect case to the Department of Health 24/7/365 at: 505-827-0006 so that antitoxin can be obtained as soon as possible if indicated.

Botulism Risk From Uneviscerated Fish

Moscahlades Bros Inc. of Paterson, NJ is recalling Hellas Golden Double Smoked Herring because it has the potential to be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium which can cause life­ threatening illness or death. Consumers are warned not to use the product even if it does not look or smell spoiled.

Botulism, a potentially fatal form of food poisoning, can cause the following symptoms: general weakness, dizziness, double-vision and trouble with speaking or swallowing. Difficulty in breathing, weakness of other muscles, abdominal distension and constipation may also be common symptoms. People experiencing these problems should seek immediate medical attention.

Hellas Golden Double Smoked Herring was distributed to IL, MD, MI, MA, NC, NY, and NJ. The product was sold in retail stores.

The product is in vacuum pack clear plastic packaging with a white label. The brand name is HELLAS from KARAGOUNIS BROS SA and imported by MOSCAHLADES BROS INC. There are two lots. LOT# L180314F33, Production date 18/3/14, Best Before 18/3/15, shipped March 2014. The second lot production date is 14/10/2014, Best Before 14/10/2015, Lot# L141014F33 shipped October 2014.

No illnesses have been reported to date.

During a routine inspection by FDA of Karagounis Bros SA in Greece it was discovered the herring was uneviscerated.

Risk of Botulism in Fish

Arcadia Trading Inc. is recalling all packages of Red Thread Fish due to a risk of botulism.

The product comes in a 7 oz. heat sealed plastic bag.

The recalled Red Thread Fish was distributed nationwide in supermarkets, according to officials.

Consumers are warned not to use the product even if it does not look or smell spoiled.

The potential for contamination was noted by New York State Department of Agriculture inspectors during a routine inspection.

Uneviscerated fish have been linked to outbreaks of botulism poisoning.

Symptoms of botulism poisoning include blurred or double vision, general weakness, poor reflexes, difficulty swallowing, and respiratory paralysis.

No illnesses have been reported in connection with this problem.

Seal Oil with Botulism Strikes 25 in Alaska

Alaska news reports a botulism outbreak in Bristol Bay communities is being closely monitored by state and local health officials. The Department of Epidemiology said Wednesday that at least 25 individuals have so far been linked to a batch of contaminated seal oil produced in the village of Twin Hills. Of the 25, several have been hospitalized, some are being monitored, and health officials are still trying to contact others.

The botulism infections were reported Friday, after two individuals were flown from the village of Quinhagak to Bethel. The two were later medevaced to Anchorage, and remain on respiratory support Wednesday, reportedly unable to breathe on their own. Three others from Quinhagak were treated for symptoms of botulism, and others in Twin Hills and Dillingham have reported symptoms or are being monitored. One child has also shown symptoms of the disease, which can be fatal, according to Dr. Michael Cooper, the Infectious Disease Program Manager at the State Department of Epidemiology.

Botulism is a paralytic illness caused by the Clostridium botulinum bacteria. In Alaska, botulism occurs almost always in fermented or preserved foods like improperly canned fish and stink heads.

Symptoms may appear as early as one day after consuming contaminated food, but could also not appear for up to ten days. Health care officials are urging those who may have eaten some of the contaminated seal oil to seek medical advice, and perhaps plan to be near a medical care facility for observation.

Canned Seafood Recalled in Canada

Vancouver Coastal Health is sending out a warning to anyone who may have purchased Bruno’s Best ready-to-eat seafood products. The health authority says the four varieties of seafood may contain botulism.

The products were sold at three Vancouver store locations of Finest at Sea’s, including its Granville Island store, between June 1 and Oct. 7 this year.

Customers are being advised to throw out the products or return them to the stores.

Inspectors discovered that the canned tuna, octopus, smoked sardines and smoked Pacific oysters weren’t processed using validated methods consistent with food safety standards, and could potentially be toxic.

Botulism in food or drink is a rare, but potentially life-threatening illness and contaminated food may not look or smell spoiled.

VR Green Farms Botulism Outbreak Lawsuit – California (2014)

California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director and State Health Officer Dr. Ron Chapman warned consumers today not to eat VR Green Farms jarred food products because they may have been improperly produced, making them susceptible to contamination with Clostridium botulinum.

Ingestion of botulism toxin from improperly processed jarred and canned foods may lead to serious illness and death. CDPH is coordinating with the US Food and Drug Administration and the Ohio Department of Health in the investigation of two cases of suspected food-borne botulism infections that may be associated with consumption of the firm’s Pine Nut Basil Pesto.  Marler Clark represents the two victims and has filed suit in California Federal Court.

VR Green Farms of San Clemente, California, is voluntarily recalling the following varieties of jarred food products: Pine Nut Basil Pesto, Pickled Farm Mix, Old World Tomato Sauce, Sundried Tomatoes in Olive Oil, Tuscan Grilling Sauce, and Pasta Sauce. These food products were sold under the VR Farms label and packaged in Mason-style glass jars with screw-on metal lids. The product labels do not include any coding or “use by” dates. Photographs can be found on Recalled Product Photos Page. The products were sold at the VR Green Farms stand in San Clemente, California and via the Internet to consumers throughout the United States.

Botulism:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Botulism outbreaks. The Botulism lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Botulism and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Botulism lawyers have litigated Botulism cases stemming from outbreaks traced to carrot juice and chili.

If you or a family member became ill with Botulism after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Botulism attorneys for a free case evaluation.