A couple of people are sick in Germany with botulism after eating pickled mushrooms from Russia.

The two confirmed cases were caused by botulinum neurotoxin A. They had symptom onset in April and May. Both ill people consumed a mushroom-in-brine preserve of milk-white brittlegill.

A laboratory in Germany, located at the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), found botulinum neurotoxin type A in an unopened jar of the product from the second patient’s household. The 500-gram item was produced on November 20, 2023, and expires on May 20, 2025.

Information from the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) shows that it was also distributed to Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Authorities took action, including public warnings, recalls, and withdrawals.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said it is monitoring the event and contacting member states and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

“Given the distribution of the implicated product in EU countries and the long shelf life (May 2025), the risk of contracting botulism is high among consumers who have bought the implicated product and do not return it to the point of sale,” said ECDC.

So far this year, Germany has reported six cases of all types of botulism compared to 33 cases in the same period in 2023.

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 — particularly of muscles used for breathing — a thick-feeling tongue, dry mouth, and muscle weakness.

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