We reviewed records of all food-borne outbreaks of botulism in Alaska from 1947 through 1985. Fifty-nine confirmed or suspected outbreaks with 156 cases were reported. All outbreaks occurred in Alaska Natives and were associated with eating traditional Alaska Native foods. Forty-four (75%) of the outbreaks were laboratory confirmed and involved 133 persons. The overall annual incidence of confirmed or suspected botulism was 8.6 cases per 100,000 population. Seventeen persons died, an overall case-fatality rate of 11%. Type E toxin accounted for 32 (73%) laboratory-confirmed outbreaks; type A, six (14%); and type B, five (11%). Forty-one cases demonstrated botulinal toxin in one or more specimens (serum, gastric contents, or stool). Of the 41 botulinal toxin-positive persons, 38 (93%) had at least three of the commonly recognized pentad of signs or symptoms--nausea and vomiting, dysphagia, diplopia, dilated and fixed pupils, or dry mouth and throat--and 20 (49%) required respiratory assistance.
From: Fortuine, Robert et al. 1993. The Health of the Inuit of North America: A Bibliography from the Earliest Times through 1990. University of Alaska Anchorage. Citation number 1854.
Environmental samples collected along the coastline and from the interior of Alaska were examined for the presence of Clostridium botulinum. Clostridium botulinum type E was detected in soils from 5 of 12 beaches; in 7 of 115 non-coastal soil samples; in sediments from six of eight locales; in gills of salmon from two fishing areas; and in the feces of 1 of 44 colonic samples from marine mammals. The basic biochemical characteristics of the isolates were determined. Tube tests for demonstrating gelatin liquefaction proved insensitive with these strains, whereas a plate test detected gelatinase in all isolates. The presence of multiple nidi and the continual discharge of organic materials into the environment may contribute to the perpetuation of botulinum spores by which foods prepared form marine animals become contaminated. An emphasis should be placed upon the need for measures to reduce environmental contamination, to reduce contamination during food preparation, and to alert continually the population of the hazard wherever botulism is endemic.
From: Fortuine, Robert et al. 1993. The Health of the Inuit of North America: A Bibliography from the Earliest Times through 1990. University of Alaska Anchorage. Citation number 1847.
The prevalence of Clostridium botulinum types A, B, E and F in river lampreys caught in Finnish rivers was determined for the first time using a quantitative PCR-MPN (most probable number) analysis. One of 67 raw whole lampreys (1.5%) was positive for the botulinum neurotoxin type E gene, with the estimated C. botulinum count being 100spores/kg. Two type E strains were isolated from the positive sample and confirmed as different genotypes by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. Although the current procedure of bringing the charcoal-broiled lampreys to market has been without any further packaging or extended storage, interest towards increasing the shelf life of the product by vacuum-packaging is increasing. Our results demonstrate that C. botulinum type E may constitute a safety hazard in processed lampreys from the Baltic Sea area if packaging and extended shelf lives are to be used. To control the potential risk, a storage temperature of 3 degrees C or below should be recommended for these products.