• Botulism The Palacios Group asks not to consume its tortillas sold in Carrefour, El Corte Inglés, Dia and 9 other supermarkets
  • Salud Ahorramas and Eroski withdraw packaged tortillas from the same supplier due to their possible link with cases of botulism

The outbreak of botulism associated with packaged potato omelettes has so far left seven cases in Spain, with three people requiring treatment in the ICU. Four of them -two citizens of Italy who consumed this product in Valladolid, one in Asturias and a fourth in Galicia- have been confirmed, and three -in Madrid, in Andalusia and in the Valencian Community- have a compatible clinical situation.

Both the two confirmed cases of Galicia and Asturias – two people of 49 and 50 years, respectively, who ate this product between June 19 and July 5 – and the probable one of Madrid – of 49 years and who began symptoms on the 10th – have required treatment in the ICU, according to the Center for Coordination of Emergencies and Health Alerts (CCAES) on Wednesday.

What is botulism?

Botulism is a rare but serious disorder caused by toxins produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. These toxins cause weakness or paralysis in the nerves.

How do you get it?

Clostridium botulinum bacteria are found in soil and untreated waters around the world. They can reach the human body in different ways. The most common types of botulism are food, which is caused by the consumption of food contaminated with the toxin; Wound botulism can also occur if bacteria enter the body through a wound and produce the toxin. There is also the so-called infant botulism, which occurs when the spores of the bacteria multiply in the intestine of the affected baby. Botulism associated with an incorrect injection of botulinum toxin for cosmetic or medical reasons is less common. This type is called iatrogenic botulism.

What are the symptoms?

Among other problems, difficulty swallowing or speaking may appear; facial weakness on both sides of the face; blurred or double vision; drooping eyelids; shortness of breath; paralysis: nausea and vomiting, etc. In the case of infant botulism, constipation is often the first symptom. Muscle weakness and problems controlling the head also appear; weak crying, irritability, drooling, drooping of the eyelids, tiredness, problems sucking or feeding or paralysis, among others. It is essential to seek medical help quickly in case of suspected botulism, as it can be fatal.

How is it treated?

In a case of botulism it is necessary to administer as soon as possible a substance that blocks the action of toxins (antitoxin). In many cases, activated charcoal is also used to remove any toxins that have not yet been absorbed. Close monitoring of vital signs is necessary, as the infection can be very serious and require admission to an intensive care unit.

For what uses is botulinum toxin authorized?

The Spanish Medicines Agency (AEMPS) has authorized the marketing in Spain of 16 presentations of nine drugs containing botulinum toxin in their composition.

Each product is authorized for a series of specific indications, the presentations are not interchangeable. The best-known authorized use of botulinum toxin is to temporarily improve facial lines such as those occurring between the eyebrows, crow's feet or lines around the mouth, in adults under 65 years of age, "when the intensity of these lines has a significant psychological impact on the patient," points to the technical sheet.

However, beyond aesthetic medicine, some presentations of botulinum toxin are also indicated in disorders such as focal spasticity secondary to stroke, cervical dystonia (spasmodic torticollis), blepharospasm or for the relief of symptoms in adults who meet the criteria for chronic migraine, among others.

This treatment is also indicated in cases of idiopathic overactive bladder, urinary incontinence or hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating).

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