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Botulism Outbreak in Oregon Sickens Three

Three Oregonians were hospitalized with boutlism after eating at a private barbecue, according to state health officials.

The Clostridium botulinum bacteria that infected these individuals is thought to have come from home-canned foods served at the event, held in Deschutes County. All three victims were residents of the county, located in central Oregon.

The Deschutes County Health Department says the incident was isolated and that all barbeque attendees had been notified. Botulism cannot be spread from person to person, so “there is no risk to the general public as a result of these cases,” said the health department in a press release Monday.

However, the public should see this outbreak as an example of the dangers of improper home canning, warns the agency.

“This is a good reminder of the importance of following strict hygenic procedures to reduce contamination of foods while canning as well as obtaining the necessary pressure when canning as well as obtaining the necessary pressure when canning to effectively destroy bacteria and prevent botulism,” warns the health department’s statement.

Instructions on how to can food safely can be found on Oregon State Extension’s website.

Foodborne botulism is caused by ingesting the toxins released by Clostridium botulinum bacteria. These toxins attack the nervous system and can cause paralysis.

Symptoms of botulism usually develop between 12 and 36 hours after ingesting contaminated food, and include blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth and muscle weakness.

In the United States, approximately 145 people contract botulism each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 15 percent of these cases are foodborne. Foods canned at home are a common source of foodborne botulism.

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