Woman dies from botulism after eating sardines in France – 12 more being treated

One woman has died and 12 other people are receiving treatment after eating at a wine bar in Bordeaux, southwestern France.

The DGS health authority said the woman died after eating sardines the wine bar had preserved itself.

The nationality of the dead woman, aged 32, has not yet been determined.

But a doctor at the Pellegrin hospital in Bordeaux, Benjamin Clouzeau, told AFP the people receiving treatment included Irish, American and Canadian nationals, while others from Germany and Spain had returned home for treatment.

Bordeaux, a popular destination for tourists, is particularly busy right now as it is one of nine French cities hosting games for the Rugby World Cup.

Thousands of Irish rugby fans were in the city at the weekend as Ireland played its opening match against Romania.

The Irish Embassy in Paris wrote on social media: “The Embassy is aware of a botulism outbreak linked to a wine bar in Bordeaux.

“We advise Irish citizens who ate in Tchin Tchin Wine Bar between September 4th and 10th to immediately consult a doctor if experiencing any symptoms.”

What is botulism?

Botulism is a rare but serious illness caused by a toxin that attacks the body’s nerves and causes difficulty breathing, muscle paralysis, and even death, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

It adds: “These bacteria can produce the toxin in food, wounds, and the intestines of infants.

“The bacteria that make botulinum toxin are found naturally in many places, but it’s rare for them to make people sick. These bacteria make spores, which act like protective coatings.

“Spores help the bacteria survive in the environment, even in extreme conditions. The spores usually do not cause people to become sick, even when they’re eaten. But under certain conditions, these spores can grow and make one of the most lethal toxins known.”

It can take time for symptoms of botulism to develop. It can vary from a few hours to several days.

The NHS says symptoms can include:

  • Drooping eyelids
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Facial muscle weakness
  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Slurred speech
  • Breathing difficulties

Botulism is a serious condition and needs immediate medical attention.

The health body advises: “Go to your nearest A&E department if you or someone you know has symptoms of botulism.

“Treatment is more effective the earlier it’s started.”



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