Woman dies in Vietnam after botulism poisoning; others fall ill

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A woman has died and botulism poisoning is suspected in five other people in Vietnam.

The Vietnam Food Administration reported it had been informed of three patients in the city of Thuận An, in Bình Dương Province.

The woman, in her 40s, died in a hospital but her 53-year-old sister and 16-year-old daughter have been given botulinum antitoxin and health officials said their condition is improving.

All three illnesses are related to a lunch on March 20 at a shrine near their home. They had the same symptoms and had previously eaten pate, according to the husband and the son of the 53-year-old patient.

Another three patients with similar symptoms and a history of eating noodle soup at a shrine in Bình Dương were admitted to hospital on March 25.

There are also reports of botulism in Kon Tum province that could be linked to salted fish.

Botulism poisoning is a rare illness caused by toxins produced by Clostridium botulinum bacteria.

The Vietnam Food Administration advised people not to use canned products that have expired or if the tin is inflated, damaged or rusty or if products have an unusual taste and color.

In 2020, an outbreak of botulism involving 13 people in the country was associated with a brand of vegetarian pâté.

A study published by Wellcome Open Research covered six patients who contracted botulism after eating the commercially made pâté.

About botulism
While a variety of illnesses can result from eating under-processed food, one of the most dangerous is botulism poisoning. Untreated, botulism can paralyze the muscles needed for breathing, resulting in sudden death.

Anyone who has developed signs of botulism poisoning should immediately seek medical attention, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“In foodborne botulism, symptoms generally begin 18 to 36 hours after eating contaminated food. However, symptoms can begin as soon as 6 hours after or up to 10 days later,” according to the CDC website.

The symptoms of botulism may include some or all of the following: double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, difficulty breathing, a thick-feeling tongue, dry mouth, and muscle weakness. People with botulism poisoning may not show all of these symptoms at once.

These symptoms result from muscle paralysis caused by the toxin. If untreated, the disease may progress, and symptoms may worsen to cause paralysis of specific muscles, including those used in breathing and those in the arms, legs, and the body from the neck to the pelvis area.

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