By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

The Ukraine Ministry of Health has reported 40 cases of botulism since January, including two fatalities.

Causes of botulism

Image/Ministry of Health of Ukraine

The cause of botulism is often products of home canning of meat, fish, less often – vegetables. Potentially hazardous are all canned products that have been poorly washed, improperly / insufficiently cooked, transported or stored improperly. Even canned food, which is good for its shelf life, appearance and taste, can be contaminated: botulism cannot be determined by color or taste, the microorganism that causes the disease does not spoil the food.

Botulism can also occur due to the consumption of dried or smoked fish and any meat products (sausages, hams, etc.). The most common cause of botulism are dried or smoked home-made products, but cases of the disease after eating products produced in industrial conditions are also registered. This happens if the relevant requirements are not met during the procurement, processing or storage of the product.

Botulism can be contracted much less frequently through wounds, just as the microorganism is rarely transmitted from mother to child through breast milk.

There are currently no known cases of botulism associated with the consumption of freshly washed and properly cooked or fried foods.

Prevention of botulism

To avoid botulism, avoid consumption:

  • dried, smoked, salted and canned fish;
  • canned meat and mushrooms;
  • home-made canned food;
  • if they are not sure that the products have been stored and / or transported properly;
  • if in doubt about the quality of the products.

Symptoms of botulism

The first symptoms of the disease most often appear 12-24 hours after eating contaminated food. At the same time, the symptoms may also appear earlier (after 2 hours) or much later (4 days or more). The more severe the disease, the shorter the incubation period.

Symptoms of botulism:

  • visual impairment – you can’t read the text, but you can see objects well;
  • severe dry mouth;
  • difficult to speak (voice becomes quiet, hoarse or disappears);
  • increased fatigue, muscle weakness;
  • dizziness;
  • short-term signs of damage to the digestive system (nausea, vomiting, weak stools), and then – the stage of intestinal paresis (bloating, constipation);
  • lesions of the muscles of the neck and extremities.

Symptoms of botulism often appear gradually, there are no sharp rises in temperature, so there is an illusion of frivolity. In the future there is a visual impairment – one of the first signs of botulism (the patient is concerned about the “grid or fog” in front of the eyes, duplication of objects, difficulty reading, which is associated with paralysis of the eye muscles). At the same time there is thirst, dryness of the mucous membranes, swallowing disorders, the tone of voice may change. Patients complain of a lump in the throat, pain when swallowing, irritation in the throat – all these symptoms are caused by damage to the swallowing muscles.

Neurological symptoms last for several days and are accompanied by a general toxic syndrome – patients complain of severe headache, dizziness, insomnia, general weakness, fever. In severe cases, patients are concerned about the feeling of shortness of breath, heaviness in the chest, breathing becomes shallow. Respiratory failure develops, which is the cause of death in botulism.

Treatment of botulism

All patients with botulism, regardless of the clinical form of the disease, must be hospitalized. The success of treatment depends on early diagnosis, proper treatment, in most cases – the introduction of botulinum antitoxin.