Ohio botulism outbreak kills 1, hospitalizes 20

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COLUMBUS, Oh. (April 22, 2015) – One person has died and at least 20 others were hospitalized after an outbreak of botulism following a potluck dinner at a central Ohio church.

All of the patients attended a potluck on Sunday at Cross Pointe Free Will Baptist Church in Lancaster, about 30 miles southeast of Columbus. Up to 60 people ate at the event.

Five patients are in critical condition and 10 were taken to hospitals in Columbus, according to Fairfield Medical Center in Lancaster.

Antitoxin is on the way from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta

“It is being sent in as quickly as we can get it,” said Dr. Andrew Murry with the medical center.

Botulism can be fatal, with symptoms typically beginning within 36 hours of consuming contaminated food. The infection can result in paralysis, double vision, difficulty swallowing and respiratory failure,

“In this day and age botulism from food is fairly rare, generally it’s canned foods,” Murry said. “The fatality rate is usually fairly low.”

And it is not contagious.

“It is not a threat to our patients, visitors or staff or the community at large,” Murry said.

Read more about botulism on the CDC’s website.