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Greek Tourist Dies After Botulism Outbreak at Restaurant in France

Bordeaux Greek tourist botulism
Botulism outbreak kills Greek tourist in Bordeaux. Credit: byb64,  CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

A Greek tourist has died from botulism after eating sardines at a Bordeaux restaurant and 12 other people, mostly foreigners, are being treated for the rare condition, French health officials said Wednesday.

The woman who has not been named dines with her partner and father at the “Tchin Tchin Bar” in the center of the French city.

At Bordeaux’s Pellegrin hospital, Dr Benjamin Clouzeau said the woman had checked into a hospital near Paris after traveling back with her partner. She returned home and died there.

The partner and father remain in intensive care.

Botulism is a serious neurological illness typically brought on by eating food that has been improperly preserved.

The restaurant had preserved the sardines itself, the DGS health authority said late Tuesday.

“At Tchin Tchin, we speak your language and want to make you feel welcome in a relaxed and informal atmosphere. Our aims are to give you a well rounded experience of good food paired with good wine, prepared by good hosts, delivered to good customers,” says the web page of the French restaurant.

“Let us take you on a tasting adventure and go “behind the label” to discover the hidden gems that will give you an unforgettable new and different experience in Bordeaux,” Tchin Tchin Bar says.

12 people receive treatment after botulism outbreak

In total 12 people were still receiving emergency treatment Wednesday, health services said. Five were on respiratory support. They include American, Irish, German and Canadian nationals, he said.

A German traveled home for treatment, as did a resident of Barcelona, Spain, the doctor said.

All of them had eaten at the restaurant, the “Tchin Tchin Wine Bar” between September 4 and 10 when there are typically large numbers of tourists in the southwestern town, famous for wine and food.

They all had sardines that had been stored by the restaurant owner himself in jars, the DGS said.

Botulism is deadly in five to 10 percent of cases because of a toxin that can be generated by clostridium botulinum bacteria when preserved food is insufficiently sterilized.

The disease begins with weakness, blurred vision, feeling tired, and trouble speaking. This may then be followed by weakness of the arms, chest muscles, and legs. Vomiting, swelling of the abdomen, and diarrhea may also occur.

Authorities were still running tests at the restaurant, the DGS said, adding it could not rule out further cases of botulism which has an incubation period of up to several days.

They were trying to contact other people who may have eaten sardines at the restaurant. A total of 25 people could be affected, they said.

An international health alert has gone out asking hospitals to look out for patients who have recently been to Bordeaux and have symptoms including diarrhoea, vomiting or problems with vision or speech.

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