Awful: Ohio botulism outbreak up to 24 cases

There still are not a whole lot of details on what went wrong on Sunday at the Cross Pointe Free Will Baptist Church in Lancaster, Ohio. With the death of a 54-year-old woman an additional 23 folks hospitalized and on ventilators, this is a big deal. According to the Columbus Dispatch, a food vehicle has not yet been identified.

The person who died at a church potluck on Sunday in Lancaster has been identified as a 54-year-old woman, a spokeswoman for Fairfield Medical Center said at a noon press conference.cross-pointe-church

Everyone at the potluck has been personally contacted by health officials. In addition to the 23 people being treated for symptoms, others are under observation.

The botulism anti-toxin was requested at 10 a.m. yesterday, immediately after the illness was identified, said Dr. Andrew Murry, an infectious-diseases doctor at the Lancaster hospital. It arrived about midnight.

“We feel like it came and was administered in an appropriate time frame,” Murry said.

If administered within four days of infection, the anti-toxin can reduce the symptoms and length of the illness, he said.

Giving it to the dead woman sooner would not have saved her because she was so critically ill, he said.

“These people are really ill, and any time you’re on a ventilator for that amount of time, things could go badly,” he said.

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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.