The Washington State Public Health Laboratory confirmed botulism was the cause of two deaths in Grant County earlier in February. The deaths were announced on Feb. 19th by the Grant County Health District (GCHD) and said they were likely caused by botulism but awaited further testing. GCHD officials said both of the cases were from the same household and had “classic” botulism symptoms.

The food source still has not been found but GCHD officials said they are working closely with the family to “properly destroy any unopened home-canned food found in the residence.” “The thorough work by medical providers and staff at GCHD in coordination with Washington State Department of Health has lead to the confirmation of botulism (botulinum) toxin in the patient’s blood samples. This in turn confirmed the clinical suspicion and the results of our environmental investigation,” GCHD Environmental Health Manager Todd Phillips said in a press release. “This tragic event is a reminder to all of us about proper food preparation and canning.”

Botulism is a serious, muscle-paralyzing disease caused by a toxin made by a bacteria found naturally in soil.