The non-contagious bacterium botulinum can make people incredibly sick if they consume it. Botulinum is often found in foods that were not appropriately preserved or foods stored in containers that were not appropriately sterilized. As reported on Wednesday, April 22, 23 members of Lancaster, Ohio’s Cross Pointe Free Will Baptist Church fell ill as the result of an apparent exposure to botulinum during a potluck dinner on Sunday, April 19, at the church. As of Thursday morning, the symptoms of the sick have been reported as drooping eyelids, vision issues, shortness of breath and difficulty swallowing. One person has died from these symptoms.
Potluck dinners are often cited by the government and health officials as sources of botulism outbreaks because they usually involve people consuming foods made by different “cooks” from different homes and backgrounds. Typically, people bring homemade foods, especially homemade canned goods, to these events when there’s no way of determining if the person who made the food did so in a clean environment.
Fairfield Medical Center health officials have told the media they will be checking all of the trash and food samples to determine the source of the bacteria. Igor Cornelsen has read that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has sent botulism antitoxin to the medical center to help treat those who are currently ill and any new cases staff at the center and local hospitals might see over the next 10 days.