Both state and local health officials have identified potato salad prepared using home-canned potatoes as the primary cause of last week’s botulism outbreak in Lancaster, Ohio. More than twenty cases of the potentially deadly bacterial disease have been identified in the city during the past one week.
Each of the individuals diagnosed with the condition took part in a potluck dinner organized at the Cross Pointe Free Will Baptist Church on Sunday, April 19.
For those who don’t know: botulism is caused by a bacteria called Clostridium botulinum; these bacteria are found in soil and are responsible for causing illness in around 145 individuals in the United States every year.
Statistics collected from previous years suggest that 15% of the people diagnosed with botulism every year get the disease from food; it has also been found that the food items causing botulism in humans are often home-canned food products.
Health officials invaded the dinner venue to test leftover samples of food; they also interviewed the patients for finding out which were the common food items each of them consumed.
Till Tuesday, as many as 21 people in the region were diagnosed with botulism. That’s not all; 10 more are right now suspected to be suffering from the fatal health condition. These numbers were presented by Shannon Libby, the spokesperson representing the state’s Department of Health. What’s more shattering is that a 54-year-old woman has already died in the city due to botulism.
All the ill patients are currently under treatment at different hospitals in the area; doctors are using an antitoxin obtained from the Strategic National Stockpile offered by the country’s Center for Disease Control & Prevention.
According to information offered by the CDC, almost every year 2 or more people get diagnosed with foodborne botulism outbreaks; and the majority of those patients are found to have the disease from home-canned food items.
According to local health officials, one way of reducing the chances of getting botulism from food is using a pressure cooker or canner for canning food items at home. This is because the pressure helps in killing the bacteria responsible for causing botulism.
Here, it must be mentioned that there’s no need to panic assuming that the disease would spread as botulism is not contagious.