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The Ministry of Health of Ukraine appeals to the international community for botulinum antitoxin aid

6 June 2018

Dr Ulana Suprun, the acting Minister of Health of Ukraine, has sent a letter to international organizations asking for support with anti-botulinum serums (botulinum antitoxin). This decision was taken in view of an expected seasonal outbreak of botulism.

This year, for the first time in history, Ukraine will purchase specific immune serums, including anti-botulinum serums (botulinum antitoxin). Before 2018, anti-botulinum serums were to be purchased for the funds of the regional or local budgets. However, no anti-botulinum serums have been registered and, consequently, available in Ukraine since 2014. Until recently, humanitarian supplies were the only way to provide Ukrainian citizens with specific immune serums, when needed. For instance, in October last year, at the request of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine the International Committee of the Red Cross delivered 150 doses of botulinum immunoglobulin, which were distributed among the regions.

Since the beginning of 2018, 39 cases of botulism with 4 deaths have been recorded in Ukraine – a total of 45 patients suffered from food-borne botulism.

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.

Prevention is primarily by proper food preparation. Potentially dangerous are home-processed foods and canned products – meat, fish, and in rare cases vegetables, especially if badly washed, incorrectly / insufficiently heat-treated, improperly transported or stored.

Botulinum antitoxin is used to treat symptoms of botulism in patients who are exposed to toxin.


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