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Health Alert: Four Amarillo People Suspected of Having Botulism

Botulism Can be Fatal
AMARILLO -- Four people in Amarillo are in the hospital for suspected botulism.

"Botulism is a rare but serious paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin that is produced by a bacterium and is typically contracted by ingesting a food containing botulism toxin. Left untreated, botulism can be fatal," a City of Amarillo news release says.

They say one suspected case of botulism was reported to the city Friday. Over the weekend, they say three more people with possible cases were found.

All four people are in the hospital. They say two patients have been treated with the botulism antitoxin, and they are slowing improving.

They say these four people had "social contact at a local residence."

The city release says they haven't found a link to any restaurant, business, school, or church. They haven't narrowed it down to any food.

Because the source of the toxin is unknown, they say you need to watch for these signs and symptoms of botulism:
* Difficulty swallowing
* Double or blurry vision
* Slurred speech
* Heavy or droopy eyelids
* Muscle weakness progressing from head to toe

Call your doctor if you have these symptoms.

The city release says they are communicating with the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Centers for Disease Control. They have submitted "food, environmental, and clinical samples for testing." They expect the results in a few days.

For more on botulism, go to http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/botulism/DS00657.
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