Fatal Botulism Case in Ohio Spotlights Mounting Concerns Regarding Tainted Food

A recent spate of botulism cases in Lancaster, Ohio, is raising awareness regarding the causes and symptoms of the illness. As previously reported by Inquisitr, one person has died and at least 18 others have become ill in an outbreak that is reportedly linked to food at a church potluck dinner. ABC News 6 in Columbus has identified the woman who died from botulism as Kim Shaw. She was 55-years-old.

But as health investigators and doctors in Ohio combat the havoc wrought by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, officials in other states are now closely watching their own communities in anticipation of similar incidents.

According to Lubbock-based station KCBD, the Department of Health in Lea County, New Mexico, has issued a warning regarding botulism cases that might have originated at a nearby locale in Texas. Like the Lancaster case, the source is believed to be contaminated food.

Botulism is also a concern in New York following a public advisory by that state’s Department of Agriculture cautioning consumers about the possibility of tainted fish. Food Safety News reports that a product called “Dry Bream-lesh,” which is imported from Russia and distributed by a Brooklyn company, is believed to be unsafe due to the fact that is was not eviscerated prior to packaging.

Botulism isn’t the only pressing health concern haunting consumers as of late. As noted by ABC News, both Blue Bell and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams have issued voluntary recalls due to fears that their goods may be tainted with a deadly bacterium known as listeria. While no illnesses have been reported regarding the contaminated ice cream, the FDA is investigating samples, conditions, and procedures of both companies.

“At this time, the FDA does not believe that the finding of listeria in one sample of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams is related to the outbreak and recall associated with Blue Bell Ice Cream,” said FDA spokesman Jeff Ventura. “We are continuing to investigate both situations and will provide updated information to consumers as we learn more.”

California authorities are also investigating an outbreak of Salmonella poisoning that is possibly related to tainted sushi. The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota recently noted at least 25 confirmed cases of the illness as of April 20, some of which were so serious that hospitalization was required. A Ventura County Public Health release further indicated that the outbreak strain “had never been seen in animals or humans before March, 2015.”

With so many alerts and harrowing potentialities regarding tainted food, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and anxious regarding the possibility that food-borne illness can strike anywhere and at any time. Indeed, there’s an old Portugese proverb that states, “Much caution does no harm.”

But as a practical matter, regular folks can’t afford a dedicated “food taster” like the kings and queens of bygone days. And while there’s no definitive and comprehensive field test that individuals can tote around to every restaurant, tailgate party, and ice cream social, FoodSafety.gov maintains an extensive repository of information regarding food safety, including information on how to identify and avoid many types of contamination, including botulism.