Two girls, aged four and six, have contracted botulism in the Brazilian state of Paraná.

Both cases were hospitalized but have now been discharged following treatment.

Foodborne botulism, caused by eating food that was improperly processed or held at improper temperatures, is rare but potentially fatal if not diagnosed rapidly and treated with antitoxin. Clostridium botulinum is the bacterium that produces botulinum toxins.

The suspected source is a sandwich eaten at a snack bar in Francisco Alves, a municipality in the state of Paraná.

The children’s symptoms began Nov. 24 in the morning. They were treated at a hospital in Francisco Alves before being transferred to Umuarama, a city in Paraná. They reacted well to the treatment and were discharged Nov. 27.

Officials inspected the snack bar and suppliers of the raw materials used in the snacks and collected samples of the food, which were sent for analysis. Results from the laboratory reports are pending to determine botulism and which food was responsible for the contamination.

Authorities stopped operations at the venue where the children ate after finding issues with the sanitary license and improper storage of food. Another place where cheese used in preparation of snacks was handled was also banned due to hygiene problems and lack of a license and authorization for such activity.

Action was also taken against the company Nutry Queijo, in Umuarama, which had no authorization and registration with the agriculture agency to do slicing of the product.

Food botulism occurs after ingestion of items contaminated with botulinum toxin. The incubation period can range from four hours to eight days with an average of 12 to 36 hours. The higher the toxin concentration in the food ingested, the shorter the incubation period.

Symptoms vary but include headache, dizziness, drowsiness, difficulty swallowing and breathing, paralysis and blurred vision.

Another type is infant botulism, which occurs mostly in those under six months of age.

Four infants in Texas recently developed botulism poisoning after being given pacifiers containing or dipped in honey.

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