The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle in Eastern Washington State this week reported on a warning issued by the Okanogan County Public Health Department about food-borne botulism associated with home-canned asparagus.
Arid areas of Eastern Washington are prime growing areas for asparagus and more home-canning is occurring as people try to economize in a tough economy. Food-borne botulism often has been from home-canned foods with low acid content, such as asparagus, green beans, beets and corn.
According to the newspaper:
Botulism is a rare but serious paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum. Food-borne botulism is caused by eating foods that contain the botulism toxin.
It can be especially dangerous since many people can be poisoned by eating contaminated food. An average of 145 cases of botulism are reported each year in the U.S. Of them, about 15 percent are food-borne.
All forms of botulism can be fatal and are considered medical emergencies. The classic symptoms of botulism include double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth and muscle weakness, the health district said.
If untreated, the symptoms may progress to cause paralysis of the arms, legs, trunk and respiratory muscles.
Food-borne botulism often has been from home-canned foods with low acid content, such as asparagus, green beans, beets and corn.
Read more in the Chronicle.