Church is usually a place where people go to heal mentally, physically and spiritually, right? Well, due to poor food preparation, many are suffering at one church. One person has died and at least 20 others were sick with symptoms of food borne botulism following a weekend church potluck in Ohio, hospital officials said on Tuesday.
The Fairfield Medical Center said in a statement that the patients, five of whom were in a critical condition, had all attended a picnic at a church in Lancaster on Sunday.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had sent anti-toxin to treat the sick, the hospital said, while local health officials investigated the cause of the outbreak.
Botulism is a rare but potentially fatal paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin that is produced by certain bacteria, according to the CDC.
The disease begins with weakness, trouble seeing, feeling tired, and trouble speaking. This may then be followed by weakness of the arms, chest muscles, and legs. The disease does not usually affect consciousness or cause a fever.
Botulism can occur in a few different ways. The bacterial spores that cause it are common in both soil and water. They produce botulinum toxin when exposed to low oxygen levels and certain temperatures. Food borne botulism happens when food containing the toxin is eaten. Infant botulism happens when the bacteria develops in the intestines and releases toxin. Typically this only happens in children less than six months of age as after that protective mechanisms develop. Wound botulism is found most often among those who inject street drugs. In this situation spores enter a wound and, in the absence of oxygen, release toxin. It is not passed directly between people. The diagnosis is confirmed by finding the toxin or bacteria in the person in question.
Prevention is primarily by proper food preparation. The toxin is destroyed by heating to more than 85 °C (185 °F) for longer than 5 minutes.
Just remember, this summer or whenever you go this summer, if the food doesn’t look like it’s been prepared or being refrigerated properly, don’t eat it. It’s not worth your life.