Case of Foodborne Botulism in Ireland
HPSC has been made aware of a case of botulism in a non-national individual resident in Ireland. The case has been fully investigated and there are no implications as regards food on sale in Ireland.
Cases of foodborne botulism are very rare in Ireland. This is the first case reported to HPSC since botulism was made a notifiable disease in 2004.
Botulism is a neurological condition produced by ingestion of a toxin produced by a bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Illness usually occurs when the bacteria have reproduced in an environment outside the body and produced toxin - this environment is usually a foodstuff. The individual then consumes the toxin itself when they eat the food, and this makes them ill with weakness and paralysis. Clostridium botulinum is an "anaerobic bacterium" which means it can only grow in the absence of oxygen, so botulism in adults tends to occur when the spores have somehow got into an airtight environment such as tins or jars, particularly home-preserved foods which have been preserved in oil. The toxin is destroyed by normal cooking processes.
More information on botulism is available at http://www.hpsc.ie/hpsc/A-Z/Gastroenteric/Botulism/Factsheet/