A woman has died and at least 10 people have been hospitalized after cases of foodborne botulism poisoning were reported in the French city of Bordeaux, which is hosting Rugby World Cup matches.

It’s necessary to be aware of the signs of the “life-threatening” bacteria after an outbreak during the Rugby World Cup in France. Early treatment is crucial for survival.

Cases have been connected to sardines eaten at the nearby Tchin Tchin wine bar, according to the French health organization Agence Regionale de Sante Nouvelle-Aquitaine. Anyone who has recently visited the location is being advised by officials to be extra alert for symptoms.

Botulism is caused by a caused by a toxin that attacks the body’s nerves resulting in difficulty breathing, muscle paralysis and even death. According to the NHS, most people will make a full recovery with treatment, but paralysis can spread to the muscles that control breathing if it is not treated quickly.

What is botulism?

Botulism is caused by toxins produced by Clostridium botulinum bacteria.

These toxins attack the nervous system – nerves, brain and spinal cord – causing paralysis, also known as muscle weakness. The time it takes to develop symptoms can vary from a few hours to several days after exposure to the Clostridium botulinum bacteria or their toxins.

Clostridium botulinum bacteria are found in soil, dust and river or sea sediments. The bacteria themselves are not harmful, but they can produce highly poisonous toxins when deprived of oxygen in certain conditions.

Symptoms

  • Depending on the exact type of botulism, its initial symptoms include:
  • Feeling sick
  • Being sick (vomiting)
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhoea or constipation
  • Without treatment, botulism eventually causes paralysis that spreads down the body from the head to the legs.

Other warning signs include:

  • Drooping eyelids
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Facial muscle weakness
  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Slurred speech
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Infected babies may exhibit floppy limbs, difficulty eating and breathing or have a weak cry
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