Botulism Tied to Sardines Leaves 1 Dead

At least 10 people who ate at the restaurant were hospitalized, most of them in intensive care or critical condition.

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PARIS (AP) — A 32-year-old woman died in France and eight other people remained hospitalized Thursday after an apparent botulism outbreak linked to homemade sardine preserves at a wine bar in Bordeaux, according to regional health officials.

At least 10 people who ate in the restaurant between Sept. 4 and Sept. 10 were hospitalized, most of them in intensive care or critical condition, according to a note by the deputy director of the regional health authority, Dr. Gregory Emery. All had consumed sardine preserves served by the restaurant, he said.

While awaiting definitive lab confirmation that botulism was the source of their illnesses, local authorities were working to track down other people who ate the sardines and warned that the number of those infected could grow.

Foodborne botulism is a rare illness from eating foods contaminated with botulinum toxin and can cause paralysis, breathing difficulty and sometimes death. Homemade foods that have been improperly canned, preserved, or fermented are common sources.

The restaurant, the Tchin Tchin Wine Bar, was closed pending further investigation. Regional newspaper Sud-Ouest quoted the manager as saying that he had ordered some jars of sardines thrown out because of a bad smell but others from the same lot appeared to be safe.

The woman who died lived in Paris. Among those sickened were visitors from the U.S., Ireland, Canada, Germany and Spain, according to local media reports.

Emery, of the Bordeaux health authority, said all exhibited symptoms typical of botulism, he said, which can include severe abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, blurred vision, dry mouth, difficulty swallowing or speaking and neurological problems.

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