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West Virginia County Remains Botulism Free

A botulism diagnosis usually does not come from a county sheriff and cookies are usually not  potential sources of the deadly disease.

But late Wednesday, two West Virginia television stations reported that Barbour County Sheriff JW Harkins was investigating a botulism case linked to eating a package of frosted animal crackers.

The sheriff said the case was reported to his office and the animal crackers had been purchased in Philippi, WV.   

Local stores were asked to pull animal crackers from their shelves and residents were  warned not to eat any they’d purchased. The Barbour County Sheriff’s Office and Barbour County Office of Emergency Services were both investigating to determine if this was possibly a case of product tampering or an isolated incident.

But on Thursday, Sheriff Hawkins said investigators had concluded that botulism was not involved. An ill person is recovering and “the symptoms are not consistent with botulism, which is a condition that progresses fast.”

The investigation into the incident continues and some suspect food items have been sent in for lab tests.

Botulism is a rare but potentially deadly illness caused by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. The bacteria may enter the body through wounds, or they may live in improperly canned or preserved food. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, outbreaks of foodborne botulism involving two or more persons are usually caused by home-canned foods. Most wound botulism cases are associated with black-tar heroin injection.

Barbour County in north central West Virginia is home to about 20,000 people.

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