One person has died and at least a dozen have been hospitalised after an outbreak of botulism at a popular wine bar.
It is believed the sick diners contracted the deadly, foodborne disease after eating sardines from a jar filled with homemade oil preserve.
What you need to know
Botulism is a fatal and rare neurological illness caused by bacteria which attacks the nervous system and causes paralysis. It is typically brought on by food not prepared or stored safely.
It's believed the sick diners ate the contaminated food between September 4 and September 10 at wine bar Tchin Tchin in central Bordeaux.
A French female diner, aged 32, has died, with her partner currently in intensive care.
British, Irish, German, Spanish, American and Canadian nationals are all currently receiving emergency treatment.
The venue owner had allegedly thrown out jars of the sardines because of a "strong smell" when opened, yet served others as they "appeared in good condition," according to local media.
🔢 The story in numbers
12 hospitalised; 5 receiving respiratory support, 2 with mild cases
29 believed to have eaten the contaminated food
5 to 10 per cent of botulism cases are deadly, according to Public Health France.
The incubation period is typically 12 to 36 hours but can be up to 7 days, according to GovUK.
🗣️ What they said
Deputy Director of the Gironde civil protection authority, Thierry Touzet: “The establishment was generally well kept however there was a real problem in the process of preserving food."
Kristy Benner, partner of hospitalised diner Matthew Jackson from the US: "His abilities were going down quickly... it was very hard to understand [what he was saying]. And his mouth was so unbelievably dry, to the point where he couldn’t swallow water.”
🤔 Should I be worried?
Botulism is very rare and usually affects only one person per year in Australia, Health Direct reports.
The disease is not spread from person to person — instead, it is transmitted by eating contaminated food or a wound being exposed.
⏭️ So what next?
The bar is temporarily closed and will undergo extensive cleaning. Health authorities have confiscated preserves to test, with the venue owner cooperating.
The immediate priority is to alert all diners who ate at the venue during the week of concern, with investigators using credit card receipts and booking information to track down those potentially affected.
💬 Conversation starter
The risk of botulism is the reason why health practitioners urge parents to not feed honey to infants under 12 months of age. The harmful bacteria can be found in honey, causing muscle weakness which impacts their ability to suckle and produce excrement.
Most adults and children develop natural defences in their intestines to prevent growth of the bacteria after six months of age.
❗ It’s hard to believe, but…
The harmful bacteria that causes botulism is widely used in cosmetic product Botox due to its strong ability to paralyse muscles.
However, for clinical and cosmetic use it is purified and significantly diluted to impose only temporary muscle relaxation. The presence of the bacteria in Botox is responsible for some of its side effects, such as droopy and dry eyes.
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