Botulism Alert

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Botulism under a microscope.

The Ministry of Health received an alert today of a Botulism outbreak in Europe that has been implicated with the Bio Gaudiano brand of olives with almonds, imported from Italy.

Although importation and distribution of this food product to Barbados is limited, it is essential that the public be alerted to the symptoms and consequences of Botulism.

Botulism is a highly fatal form of food poisoning and is considered a medical emergency.

Although cases are very rare, Botulism attacks the nervous system and in its severe forms, it can cause respiratory failure if left untreated.

The classic symptoms of botulism include double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, and muscle weakness. Infants with botulism appear lethargic, feed poorly, are constipated, and have a weak cry and poor muscle tone. These are all symptoms of the muscle paralysis caused by the bacterial toxin. If untreated, these symptoms may progress to cause paralysis of the respiratory muscles, arms, legs, and trunk. In foodborne botulism, symptoms generally begin 18 to 36 hours after eating a contaminated food, but they can occur as early as 6 hours or as late as 10 days.

Persons with these symptoms are advised to seek medical care immediately.

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