One dead, 20 ill with botulism following Ohio church potluck

Potlucks can be scary. I prefer to attend events organized and attended by other food safety nerds. They should at least know how to safely cook/prepare/transport/serve stuff.

If I attend a potluck in the real world, I typically stick to the bread products and high acid fruits. I’m trying to avoid the unknown.

Like botulism.

According to MyFox28, at least 21 attendees of a Lancaster, Ohio church potluck dinner have botulism. Tragically, one individual has died.6kiGZPDQ

Health officials say all of the people who are ill attended a potluck at Cross Pointe Free Will Baptist Church Sunday.

Three of the patients are in critical condition, and 10 patients were taken to other hospitals.

Health officials 50 to 60 people attended the potluck.

The hospital says a neurologist determined a patient had botulism Tuesday morning, and a short time later, two other cases were identified. All 19 of the patients came in to the Emergency Department at Fairfield Medical Center.

The Fairfield Medical Center is reminding the community that botulism is not contagious, so there is no threat to the community. But medical officials are encouraging anyone who was at the potluck to come to the emergency department.

There’s no indication as to what food contained the botulinum toxin. It could be linked to home-canned foods (as most botulism cases in the U.S. are) or maybe baked potatoes wrapped in foil that were held at room temperature – something that I’ve seen at potlucks before.

This entry was posted in E. coli, Other Microorganisms and tagged by Ben Chapman. Bookmark the permalink.

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.