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Botulism: immediate treatment in clinical case of botulism

2 July 2018

A new case of botulism was registered on June 27 in Kherson oblast. On June 30, the patient was treated with anti-botulism serum, provided by the State Enterprise Ukrvaktsina of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine. The patient is now in stable condition and undergoing treatment at the hospital. Ukrainians are currently provided with Canadian-produced serums delivered by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Ukraine as humanitarian aid upon the request of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine.

Currently, there is a seasonal increase in the incidence of botulism in Ukraine – since the beginning of 2018, 46 cases of botulism with 4 deaths have been recorded in Ukraine – a total of 53 patients suffered from food-borne botulism. In this context, the Ministry of Health of Ukraine appealed to the international community for aid with serums against botulism. As of July 1st, 2018, the antitoxin was sourced by UNDP within the shortest possible period and high-quality serums were transferred to the specialized warehouse (SE Ukrvaktsina) of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine.

Moreover, this year the Ministry of Health of Ukraine for the first time ensured that anti-botulism serum is included to the list of centrally procured medicines. This will allow creating a stock of serums. The shipment, delivered last week, should cover the needs till the moment when serums procured through international organizations are delivered to Ukraine.

The Ministry of Health of Ukraine has distributed to all regional health departments and Kyiv city state administration the guidelines for obtaining serums against botulism and taking actions to prevent future botulism outbreaks. In particular, local authorities must take the necessary measures to identify the botulism source and to prevent further cases from occurring. The Ministry of Health of Ukraine assumes control of every violation of these instructions.

Botulinum antitoxin is used to treat symptoms of botulism in patients who are exposed to toxin. Anti-botulism serums are urgently provided in either suspected or confirmed clinical case of botulism (on a 24/7 basis)! To get a serum against botulism, a representative of health facility has to contact a responsible officer of the State Enterprise Ukrvaktsina of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine.

The Ministry would also like to remind that prevention is the most efficient way to avoid botulism and encourages people to refrain from eating foods of unconfirmed quality. Botulism is a rare, but serious and potentially fatal disease, which is generally caused by consumption of food products contaminated by a toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum bacteria. Botulism can cause severe complications. Risk factors include consumption of dried, salted and canned fish, sausages, ham, as it could have been contaminated under natural conditions. The causative agent breeds in anaerobic state (without air) under improper conditions of storage or transportation.

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