Portugal health officials are reporting a botulism outbreak that has sickened up to six people, including one foreign national, according to the General Directorate for Health (DGS) last week (computer translated).
The DGS says there are four confirmed cases (one a Swiss resident) and two probable identified, linked to the consumption of Origem Transmontana brand smoked sausages and cheese.
Health officials report no deaths in the current outbreak.
Food borne botulism is a severe intoxication caused by eating the preformed toxin present in contaminated food.
Food borne botulism occurs when the bacterium Clostridium botulinum is allowed to grow and produce toxin in food that is later eaten without sufficient heating or cooking to inactivate the toxin. Botulinum toxin is one of the most potent neurotoxins known.
Typically in a few hours to several days after you eat the contaminated food you will start to show the classic symptoms; blurred vision, dry mouth, and difficulty in swallowing. Gastrointestinal symptoms may or may not occur. If untreated, the paralysis always descends through the body starting at the shoulders and working its way down.
The most serious complication of botulism is respiratory failure where it is fatal in up to 10% of people. It may take months before recovery is complete.
If the disease is caught early enough it can be treated with antitoxin. If paralysis and respiratory failure happen, the person may be on a ventilator for several weeks.
Robert Herriman is a microbiologist and the Editor-in-Chief of Outbreak News Today and the Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch
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