November 2012

A total of 8 inmates from a maximum-security prison in Arizona were hospitalized with suspected botulism poisoning after apparently drinking homemade alcohol, authorities said on Monday, 26 Nov 2012.  7 of the inmates, whose names were not released, were being treated in intensive care with a special antitoxin after being admitted to the hospital on Saturday and Sunday, 24-25 Nov 2012, Pinal County spokeswoman Heather Murphy said.

“All of them are unable to breathe on their own right now because of the paralysis caused by the botulism,” Murphy said. The condition of the 8th prisoner was not known.

Officials said the inmates, who range from 20 to 35 years old, were apparently poisoned from drinking contraband alcohol made inside the prison from fermented fruit, a brew commonly called pruno. The inmates were assigned to a special management unit at the state prison complex in Florence, Arizona. Prison and county health officials were monitoring other prisoners in the same area for possible additional cases.

This is the 2nd time in nearly 4 months that inmates at the Arizona prison have apparently contracted botulism from prison-made alcohol. In August 2012, 4 prisoners were hospitalized after contracting the illness.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Birtch Farms and Estate Winery are warning the public not to consume the Birtch Farms and Estate Winery brand Pumpkin Butter because it may be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum. Toxins produced by these bacteria may cause botulism, a life-threatening illness.

The affected product, Birtch Farms and Estate Winery brand Pumpkin Butter, was sold in 110 ml and 250 ml jars. All lot codes are affected by this alert.

This product has been distributed in Ontario.

There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of this product.

Food contaminated with Clostridium botulinum toxin may not look or smell spoiled. Consumption of food contaminated with the toxin may cause nausea, vomiting, fatigue, dizziness, headache, double vision, dry throat, respiratory failure and paralysis. In severe cases of illness, people may die.

The manufacturer, Birtch Farms and Estate Winery, Woodstock, ON, is voluntarily recalling the affected product from the marketplace. The CFIA is monitoring the effectiveness of the recall.