Foodborne Botulism in Taiwan, January - May 2010

Tsung-Pei Tsou1、3, Wan-Chin Chen2、3, Jung-Jung Mu4

2010 Vol.26 NO.12

Correspondence Author: Tsung-Pei Tsou



Clostridium botulinumis an anaerobic, spore-forming bacillus. Neurotoxin produced by C. botulinum is the most potent neurotoxins known. Botulism is an important reportable disease because of its risk of death if not treated adequately, the possibility of foodborne outbreaks and can be used for bioterrorism. Both the number of reported and confirmed cases increased in Taiwan this year. Here, we summarize the clinical presentation, diagnosis, management and investigation of these cases.
During January 1 to May 31, 2010, there were 13 suspected botulism cases reported. Nine cases met both the clinical and laboratory criteria and were confirmed as foodborne botulism, including two outbreaks and four sporadic cases. Their mean age is 42 years. Four are male. Most common clinical symptoms include dysphagia, tongue weakness, ptosis and muscle weakness. Half of the patients had gastrointestinal symptoms including diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. Mouse inoculation test showed that seven was positive for toxin A, one
positive for toxin B and one was negative. Antitoxin was administered to eight cases. Eight cases were intubated with ventilator support. In addition, one person died.
Foodborne botulism is a public health emergency. High awareness of clinicians, good cooperation between disease-control and food safety officials are crucial for timely diagnosis and treatment, which can help find the contamination source and prevent future cases.