The Ministry of Health of Ukraine reported today (computer translated) on an additional botulism case in the Kherson region from late June. The patient was treated with Botulism Antitoxin and is currently stable.

Image/Ministry of Health of Ukraine
Image/Ministry of Health of Ukraine

This brings the total botulism cases since the beginning of the year to 53, including four fatalities.

As of July 1, 2018, antitoxin (serum against botulism) is available in a specialized warehouse of the State Enterprise “Ukrvaktsina Ministry of Health of Ukraine”. These are high-quality Canadian medicines procured by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and transferred to Ukraine as humanitarian aid. This year the Ministry of Health of Ukraine first included antitoxins against botulism in the list of medicines procured by the state and will conduct a centralized procurement through international organizations.

Food borne botulism is a severe intoxication caused by eating the preformed toxin present in contaminated food.

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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.