Botulism Kills 1 After Ohio Church Potluck; How Can You Avoid Botulism?

Botulism Kills 1 After Ohio Church Potluck; How Can You Avoid Botulism?
Now, into the fridge for 2 weeks Ben Brown/Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0
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What's This?

A botulism outbreak has killed one person in a local Ohio church after a potluck, according to health officials.


At least 18 people have been sent to hospitals, while a 54-year-old woman died. Cassie Bala, a spokeswoman from the Ohio Department of Health, said that 21 people who are not showing any symptoms of botulism are under tight watch.

Youngest patient is 9

The youngest patient is aged 9, the oldest, 87.

Officials suspect that they contracted botulism during a potluck at Cross Pointe Free Will Baptist Church on Sunday. Symptoms didn’t appear for some people, including 77-year-old Janet Timmons, until Tuesday.

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“The fatality rate is usually fairly low,” Dr. Andrew Murry said.

“But there really isn’t a lot of treatment, and nobody has received any of the anti-toxin yet. But it is being sent in as quickly as we can get it (from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).”

What is botulism?

Botulism is rare but serious once contracted, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The illness is caused by a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum, which can be found in soil.

Symptoms of botulism include blurring of vision, slurred speech, difficulty in swallowing, dry mouth, and weakness of the muscles.

Foodborne botulism can begin after 18 hours of eating the contaminated food.

Preventing botulism, especially foodborne, can be as simple as cleaning the house from soil and dust. On the other hand, home-canned foods are considered one of the main culprits for the spread of the bacterium. Canning foods with low-acid content, such as green beans, beets, asparagus and corn, can be dangerous if not done properly.

Various oils that contain garlic and other types of herbs should be refrigerated at all times. Baked potatoes in aluminum foil should also remain hot until after they are served or refrigerated.

The toxin can easily be destroyed by heating, so boiling canned food for 10 minutes ensures safety for those who will eat.

Also read: Traces Of Listeria Incite Sabra Hummus Recall; How To Prevent Listeriosis