Four suspected cases of foodborne botulism are under investigation in Argentina.

In late August, the National Health Surveillance System was notified of the cases following a meeting at a house in the district of Buenos Aires.

Three patients are adults and one is a child under 5 years old. All of them have been hospitalized and received treatment with antitoxin.

Investigations have revealed that all cases are related and shared, among other foods, some type of homemade preserve. Lab analysis identified botulinum toxin type A in one of the jars of this food.

Health officials said the early suspicion and notification of cases made it possible to quickly identify those affected, commence treatment and start the epidemiological investigation. This identified the homemade preserves as the source, which allowed potential further infections to be avoided.

Botulinum poisoning is a rare but life-threatening condition, caused by toxins produced by Clostridium botulinum bacteria. In foodborne botulism, symptoms generally begin 18 to 36 hours after eating contaminated food. However, they can occur as soon as six hours or up to 10 days later. Symptoms may include double or blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing or breathing, paralysis, a thick-feeling tongue, dry mouth, and muscle weakness.

Trichinella situation

The Argentinian Ministry of Health has also shared updated data on Trichinella in the province of Buenos Aires.

So far in 2023, 160 suspected trichinosis (or trichinellosis) cases have been recorded, this includes 38 confirmed, 56 probable cases and another 65 still under investigation. Three outbreaks have been noted in Chivilcoy, Coronel Dorrego and one that affected several areas.

For the same period in 2022, 210 suspected cases were reported, of which 59 cases were confirmed and 141 were potential infections. Seven outbreaks were recorded.

Trichinellosis is transmitted by eating raw or undercooked pork contaminated with the parasite Trichinella.

Initial symptoms of infection are nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue, fever, and abdominal discomfort. Headaches, fevers, chills, cough, swelling of the face and eyes, aching joints and muscle pains, itchy skin, diarrhea or constipation may follow. Patients may have difficulty coordinating movements, and have heart and breathing problems.

Abdominal symptoms can occur one to two days after infection. Further symptoms usually start two to eight weeks after eating contaminated meat. Freezing, curing or salting, drying, smoking, or microwaving meat may not kill the organism. The best way to prevent trichinosis is to cook meat to a temperature of 71 degrees C (160 degrees F).

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