Mon, Apr 19, 2010 - Page 2 News List

CDC confirms botulism death

POISONINGA woman and her mother-in-law were the third and fourth cases this year. This has hurt makers of dried bean curd, though the cause remains a mystery


The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed yesterday that a woman who died on April 14 after eating dried beancurd and preserved oysters had a botulism infection.

CDC Deputy Director Lin Ting (林頂) said lab tests confirmed that the 44-year-old woman from Miaoli County had contracted botulism, which is usually caused by a nerve toxin produced by the clostridium botulinum bacteria.

Several mice injected with the woman’s blood serum died within 24 hours, Lin said.

However, further lab tests will be required to determine what type of botulism caused the woman’s death, he said.

It remains unclear whether dried beancurd or preserved oysters consumed by the woman and her mother-in-law caused the fatal infection, Lin said.

The woman’s 71-year-old mother-in-law has been on a ventilator at Taichung Veterans General Hospital since she fell ill after eating the beancurd and oysters. Lab tests have confirmed that she also has a botulism infection. She received two doses of botulism antitoxin that were rushed to the hospital by the CDC and which saved her life, Lin said.

However, her daughter-in-law was not so lucky, as she was rushed to a different hospital in Taoyuan County, which failed to seek emergency assistance from the CDC, Lin said.

Two packs of dried beancurd and a can of salted oysters found in the women’s home in Miaoli were retrieved by the Food and Drug Administration for testing, but the lab reports will not be available for two weeks, the CDC said.

The two Miaoli women were the third and fourth botulism cases this year, following a mother and daughter in Taoyuan County who were diagnosed earlier this month, the CDC said.

The Taoyuan mother and daughter were treated with botulism antitoxin.

In the wake of the latest incident, the Taoyuan County Public Health Bureau on Friday closed the two companies where the dried beancurd was made for two weeks and ordered that the products be pulled from shelves at major grocery stores.

The companies, however, have complained of mistreatment, ­saying their products were safe and were made in line with government standards.

The latest incident has also resulted in declining business in Taoyuan County’s Dasi Township (大溪) — the center of the nation’s dried beancurd production.

Huang Chien-chia (黃建嘉), president of Tafang Foods, a well-established manufacturer of dried beancurd and related products in Dasi, said his store’s business shrank by one-third this weekend.

Chiang Chiu-yun (江秋雲), the owner of Wan Li Hsiang, another company, said business at her store had also been affected by the incident, but added that her faithful customers had continued buying.

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