Woman dies of botulism after outbreak in tourist city - 6 signs to look out for
People are being warned to look out for symptoms of a life-threatening condition from poorly cooked food after a woman died at a restaurant popular with British tourists.
Botulism is caused by clostridium botulinum bacteria and can lead to paralysis, with muscles controlling breathing affected and death in up to 10% of cases if it is not treated quickly. A case has broken out at a restaurant in Bordeaux, which has hosted Wales and Ireland Rugby World Cup games, and led to one person dying along with a further 12 being hospitalised.
An Irish rugby fan is among seven patients in intensive care with the nationality of the dead woman, aged 32, yet to be officially confirmed. The family of the Ireland fan have cautioned their compatriots about the symptoms of the illness should they return to Bordeaux.
The UK Health Security Agency has warned that anybody who went to the Tchin Tchin wine bar recently to immediately get in touch with an emergency medical department. The outbreak is being linked to sardines served at the restaurant where thousands of Welsh and Irish fans could have dined over the weekend.
Signs of botulism don’t immediately appear and can take several days to emerge but it can become a lot more serious without treatment. "The time it takes to develop symptoms can vary from a few hours to several days after exposure to the Clostridium botulinum bacteria or their toxins,” the NHS states.
“Depending on the exact type of botulism, some people initially have symptoms such as feeling sick, being sick (vomiting), stomach cramps, diarrhoea or constipation. Without treatment, botulism eventually causes paralysis that spreads down the body from the head to the legs.”
Affected babies may also have a weak cry, find it difficult to feed, and have a floppy head, neck and limbs, says the NHS. The clostridium botulinum bacteria that leads to botulism is found in soil, dust and river or sea sediments. The bacteria themselves are not harmful, but they can produce highly poisonous toxins when deprived of oxygen, such as in closed cans or bottles, stagnant soil or mud, or occasionally, the human body.
A doctor at Pellegrin hospital in Bordeaux, Benjamin Clouzeau, said that the 12 people receiving emergency treatment included American, Irish and Canadian nationals. A German national travelled home for treatment, as did a resident of Barcelona, Spain.
The local health body, Agence Regionale de Sante Nouvelle-Aquitane, is calling on those who visited the location to be "extremely vigilant". They said: "Most people are of foreign nationality (American, Canadian, German). They all frequented the same bar in Bordeaux, the Tchin Tchin Wine Bar, over the last week. The suspected foods at this stage are canned sardines made at home by the restaurant owner.
"Given the incubation time (from a few hours to a few days) and the serious nature of the disease, the ARS Nouvelle-Aquitaine alerted the SOS Medecins network and emergency services. People who have visited this Bordeaux establishment are called upon to be extremely vigilant and to consult in the event of symptoms."