Published On: Thu, Sep 14th, 2023
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Brits suspected to be infected with rare botulism after eating sardines at restaurant | World | News

Brits are believed to be among those who have been infected by a rare but potentially deadly disease after eating at a French restaurant.

A woman has died and at least 12 people are believed to have been infected after eating tinned sardines at a wine bar between September 4 and 10.

She was killed by botulism, a serious neurological illness, which is often brought on by food that has not been preserved properly.

French health officials said on Wednesday (September 13) that a dozen people, most of whom were foreigners to the country, are being treated.

They had dined at the Tchin Tchin Wine Bar between September 4 and 10 in Bordeaux, which is currently playing host to Rugby World Cup matches.

According to French media, almost all of those affected were American, Canadian or German tourists.

The nationality of the 32-year-old woman who has died has not been revealed.

She died after returning home with her partner – who still remains in intensive care – in Ile-de-France.

However the UK Heath Security Agency has said it was aware of a “small number” of Brits who may also have been infected.

It said they were now receiving medical attention in the UK, but there could be more who had yet to be traced.

People who ate at the restaurant in that time period should contact their local A&E department urgently, the UKHSA said.

A spokesperson added: “Botulism does not spread from person to person and there is no risk to the general population.”

The health authority said officials were still running tests at the restaurant and trying to contact others who may have eaten sardines there.

They reported a total of 25 people could be affected, with botulism having an incubation period of up to several days.

The restaurant’s manager admitted he had thrown away some sardines from a homemade batch that had a strong smell.

He told the Sud Ouest newspaper: “Others appeared healthy and were served to customers. I am devastated for these customers if it turns out they got sick at my place.”

Botulism is deadly in five to 10 per cent of cases. This is due to a toxin generated by clostridium botulinum bacteria, which occurs when preserved food is insufficiently sterilised.

It can cause muscle paralysis lasting several weeks – with the most immediate danger stemming from affected respiratory muscles.

An international health alert has been sent out, asking hospitals to watch out for patients who have recently visited Bordeaux and are presenting symptoms such as diarrhoea, vomiting or problems with vision and speech.

Anti-toxins from military stocks are also being brought to Bordeaux.

The restaurant has been closed and the owner told not to preserve any further sardines as authorities take his stocks for further testing.

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