November 2008

 The  U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta have confirmed the conclusion of the in-country Minister of Health: Uganda has an outbreak of botulism to deal with.

According to The New Vision, which claims to be Uganda’s top website, the health ministry has issued a public warning about the botulism outbreak.   Here is what is being reported:

"THE health ministry has warned the public of a possible outbreak of botulism, a condition caused by consuming toxic canned foodstuffs. 

In a statement released on Monday, the ministry cautioned students, parents and school administrators to “exercise care while preparing foodstuffs expected to be stored for long at room temperature.” 

“Care should be taken in handling foods, including proper refrigeration of perishable foods,” a ministry statement signed by Dr. Sam Zaramba, the director general of health services, said. 

“Avoid the purchase of canned foods that are expired, damaged, bulging or in perforated containers,” the statement adds. 
The warning follows the death in October, of Sarah Akoo, a student of Seeta High School in Mukono. 

Test results from Centres for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta USA, confirmed that the deceased and her two friends, who have since been admitted to Mulago Hospital, suffered from botulism. 

The New Vision has established from Alice Akoo, the mother of the late Sarah Akoo, that her daughter died at Kololo Hospital and the body was taken to International Hospital Kampala for a postmortem examination. Sarah, she clarified, died a week before the school’s gazetted visiting day. "

More can be found here and here.

The canning factory responsible for giving botulism poisoning to at least eight people closes forever today.

Castleberry’s in Augusta, GA closes today, putting 327 people out of work.

Connor Brothers, which owns Castleberry’s is selling the company to Hanover foods.

Hanover currently operates its own factory in New Jersey.

Executives with Conner Brothers say Castleberry’s sales never recovered from the 2007 botulism outbreak that temporarily closed the plant. 

 Myself, along with Charles Murray, Esq., represented Carl Ours, a man with the tragically bad luck to be one of the eight cases of botulism associated with contaminated Castleberry’s Austex Hot Dog Chili Sauce. As a result of the botulism, Carl spent almost a month in the hospital, with sixteen days of it on a ventilator. He then spent weeks in a nursing home and a year latter he is still suffering from the impacts. We were able to secure a settlement for Carl after mediation.  For the full detail on the outbreak click here.

Botulism is a rare, life-threatening paralytic illness caused by neurotoxins produced by an anaerobic, gram-positive, spore-forming bacterium, Clostridium botulinum. The incidence of foodborne botulism is extremely low. Nonetheless, the extreme danger posed by the bacteria has required that “intensive surveillance is maintained for botulism cases in the United States, and every case is treated as a public health emergency.” This danger includes a mortality rate of up to 65% when victims are not treated immediately and properly. Most of the botulism events that are reported annually in the United States are associated with home-canned foods that have not been safely processed. Very occasionally, however, commercially- processed foods are implicated as the source of a botulism events, including sausages, beef stew, canned vegetables, and seafood products.

 

Two Mendocino County, CA cases of wound botulism are being blamed on Mexican black tar heroin use. Wound botulism is caused by the same bacteria that causes foodborne and infant botulism.

According to The Willits News:

The two residents infected with the rare but extremely virulent disease are breathing on mechanical ventilators and were transferred to Bay Area hospitals for treatment.

These two cases are believed related to contaminated black tar heroin recently brought to the county from a Bay Area source.

Last year there were no wound botulism cases reported in Mendocino County and only 10 reported in California, according to California Department of Public Health. They are usually caused by intravenous drug use.

More can be found here.