Infectious Diseases

Fatal Botulism Outbreak in Azerbaijan Linked to Home Made Pickles

Acidic food stuffs like tomatoes have traditionally been thought of as safe as far as the risk of botulism was concerned. However, an outbreak of six cases, one of whom died, in Azerbaijan, which has subsequently been linked to home made pickled tomatoes, has brought that conventional wisdom into question. More of this outbreak can be read on the Azer News article.

Botulism results from the presence of the botulinum toxin, which is a neurotoxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Optimal storage conditions, clean and hygienic preparation and proper pH and salting is known to avoid the development of this bacterial toxin in pickled foods. Using pressure techniques to make pickles out of food matter with low acid content guards against the development of this toxin and using boiling or other conventional techniques maybe dangerous.

Skeptic Oslerphile. PhD Student in the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Past: 1) Public Health Scientist and Program Manager, Translational Global Health Policy Research Cell, Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. 2) Scientist, Indian Council of Medical Research, National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases; 3) Senior Research Associate, Public Health Foundation of India. Interests include: Emerging Infections, Public Health, Antimicrobial Resistance, One Health and Zoonoses, Diarrheal Diseases, Medical Education, Medical History, Open Access, Healthcare Social Media and Health2.0. Opinions are my own!

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