Foodborn botulism outbreaks following consumption of home canned bamboo shoots in Northern Thailand

Department of Community and Social Medicine, Mae Sot General Hospital, Tak, Thailand.
Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand = Chotmaihet thangphaet 09/2000; 83(9):1021-5.
Source: PubMed


We report epidemiological investigations of 2 outbreaks of foodborne botulism following consumption of home-canned bamboo shoots in northern Thailand. The first outbreak affecting 4 female and 2 male cases occurred in Mae Sot District, Tak Province, in December 1997. All 6 cases were hospitalized, 4 of whom required mechanical ventilation. All cases experienced neurological features and 4 had gastrointestinal symptoms. One case died, giving a case-fatality rate of 16.7 per cent. A case-control study revealed a significant association (p < 0.01) between the disease and consumption of home-canned bamboo shoots purchased from the same foodshop in the village. The second outbreak of a similar clinical syndrome occurred in Thawangpha District, Nan Province, in April 1998. A total of 13 cases were identified, 9 (69.2%) of whom were female. Nine cases (69.2%) were hospitalized, 4 (30.8%) of whom required mechanical ventilation. Two early hospitalized cases died due to ventilatory failure, giving a case-fatality rate of 15.4 per cent. A case-control study indicated that home-canned bamboo shoots prepared by a local foodshop served as the vehicle for the disease transmission. One bamboo shoot specimen from one affected house was positive for botulinum toxin type A by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and mouse antitoxin bioassay. Improper home-canning procedures for bamboo shoot preservation were similarly detected in both outbreaks although performed by different merchants. Prompt recognition and treatment of the disease are essential in reducing the fatality rate. Safe home-canning procedures should be widely distributed and instructed to persons who perform bamboo shoot preservation for sale.

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