All in all, one person and possibly 26 people have fallen sick due to botulism following a church potluck last Sunday, April 19. The one fatality was a 55-year-old woman who died after consuming food at the festivities held at the Cross Pointe Free Will Baptist Church in Lancaster, Ohio. 19 other cases have been confirmed by officials, while another nine people are merely suspected of having fallen ill.
According to Ohio Department of Health spokeswoman Michelle Loparo, six of the food samples gathered from a garbage bag at the church have proven to be positive for botulism. Four of the samples were potato salad, one was a spaghetti pasta salad, and the last sample was for macaroni and cheese. It isn’t sure as of this writing whether all the samples were infected separately, and more testing would have to be done to determine which of the samples was the source of the botulism.
A total of 50 to 60 people reportedly ate at the church potluck, including ten children, and officials are testing several other samples of homemade and store-bought food that was brought to the event. Those infected have been treated with a botulism antitoxin courtesy of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Botulism is, in present days, an extremely rare illness that typically affects only 145 Americans per year. Symptoms, which usually take 18 to 36 hours to manifest, include blurred vision, slurred speech, muscle weakness, dry mouth, and difficulty swallowing.