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J Infect Dis. 1998 Jul;178(1):172-7.

A large outbreak of botulism: the hazardous baked potato.

Author information

1
Foodborne and Diarrheal Diseases Branch, Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, USA. fja0@cdc.gov

Abstract

In April 1994, the largest outbreak of botulism in the United States since 1978 occurred in El Paso, Texas. Thirty persons were affected; 4 required mechanical ventilation. All ate food from a Greek restaurant. The attack rate among persons who ate a potato-based dip was 86% (19/22) compared with 6% (11/176) among persons who did not eat the dip (relative risk [RR] = 13.8; 95% confidence interval [CI], 7.6-25.1). The attack rate among persons who ate an eggplant-based dip was 67% (6/9) compared with 13% (241189) among persons who did not (RR = 5.2; 95% CI, 2.9-9.5). Botulism toxin type A was detected from patients and in both dips. Toxin formation resulted from holding aluminum foil-wrapped baked potatoes at room temperature, apparently for several days, before they were used in the dips. Consumers should be informed of the potential hazards caused by holding foil-wrapped potatoes at ambient temperatures after cooking.

PMID:
9652437
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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