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Diseases » Botulism food poisoning » Prevalence

Prevalence and Incidence of Botulism food poisoning

Botulism food poisoning: Rare Disease

Botulism food poisoning is listed as a "rare disease" by the Office of Rare Diseases (ORD) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This means that Botulism food poisoning, or a subtype of Botulism food poisoning, affects less than 200,000 people in the US population.

Ophanet, who are a consortium of European partners, currently defines a condition rare when if affects 1 person per 2,000. They list Botulism food poisoning as a "rare disease". More information about Botulism food poisoning is available from Orphanet

Incidence (annual) of Botulism food poisoning:

154 annual cases notified in USA 1999 including 23 foodborne, 92 infant, and 39 other (MMWR 1999) ... see also overview of Botulism food poisoning.

Incidence Rate:

approx 1 in 1,766,233 or 0.00% or 153 people in USA [Source statistic for calcuation: "154 annual cases notified in USA 1999 including 23 foodborne, 92 infant, and 39 other (MMWR 1999)" -- see also general information about data sources]

Incidence extrapolations for USA for Botulism food poisoning:

153 per year, 12 per month, 2 per week, 0 per day, 0 per hour, 0 per minute, 0 per second. [Source statistic for calculation: "154 annual cases notified in USA 1999 including 23 foodborne, 92 infant, and 39 other (MMWR 1999)" -- see also general information about data sources]

Incidence of types of Botulism food poisoning:

For details see incidence of types of Botulism food poisoning analysis; summary of available incidence by type data:

Prevalance of Botulism food poisoning:

The incidence of the disease is low, but the disease is of considerable concern because of its high mortality rate if not treated immediately and properly. Most of the 10 to 30 outbreaks that are reported annually in the United States are associated with inadequately processed, home-canned foods, but occasionally commercially produced foods have been involved in outbreaks (Source: FDA Bad Bug Book) ... In the United States an average of 110 cases of botulism are reported each year. Of these, approximately 25% are foodborne, 72% are infant botulism, and the rest are wound botulism. Outbreaks of foodborne botulism involving two or more persons occur most years and usually caused by eating contaminated home-canned foods. The number of cases of foodborne and infant botulism has changed little in recent years, but wound botulism has increased because of the use of black-tar heroin, especially in California. (Source: excerpt from Botulism General: DBMD) ... In 1999, 174 cases of botulism were reported to the CDC. Of these, 26 were foodborne, 107 were infant botulism, and 41 were cases of wound botulism. (Source: excerpt from Botulism: DBMD)

Incidence of Botulism food poisoning:

The incidence of the disease is low, but the mortality rate is high if not treated immediately and properly. There are generally between 10 to 30 outbreaks a year in the United States. (Source: FDA Bad Bug Book)

Outbreaks of Botulism food poisoning:

Two separate outbreaks of botulism have occurred involving commercially canned salmon. Restaurant foods such as sauteed onions, chopped bottled garlic, potato salad made from baked potatoes and baked potatoes themselves have been responsible for a number of outbreaks. Also, smoked fish, both hot and cold-smoke (e.g., Kapchunka) have caused outbreaks of type E botulism.

In October and November, 1987, 8 cases of type E botulism occurred, 2 in New York City and 6 in Israel. All 8 patients had consumed Kapchunka, an uneviscerated, dry-salted, air-dried, whole whitefish. The product was made in New York City and some of it was transported by individuals to Israel. All 8 patients with botulism developed symptoms within 36 hours of consuming the Kapchunka. One female died, 2 required breathing assistance, 3 were treated therapeutically with antitoxin, and 3 recovered spontaneously. The Kapchunka involved in this outbreak contained high levels of type E botulinal toxin despite salt levels that exceeded those sufficient to inhibit C. botulinum type E outgrowth. One possible explanation was that the fish contained low salt levels when air-dried at room temperature, became toxic, and then were re-brined. Regulations were published to prohibit the processing, distribution and sale of Kapchunka and Kapchunka-type products in the United States.

A bottled chopped garlic-in-oil mix was responsible for three cases of botulism in Kingston, N.Y. Two men and a woman were hospitalized with botulism after consuming a chopped garlic-in-oil mix that had been used in a spread for garlic bread. The bottled chopped garlic relied solely on refrigeration to ensure safety and did not contain any additional antibotulinal additives or barriers. The FDA has ordered companies to stop making the product and to withdraw from the market any garlic-in-oil mix which does not include microbial inhibitors or acidifying agents and does not require refrigeration for safety. Since botulism is a life-threatening disease, FDA always initiates a Class I recall.

January 1992 An incident of foodborne botulism in Oklahoma is reported in MMWR 44(11):1995 Mar 24.

A botulism type B outbreak in Italy associated with eggplant in oil is reported in MMWR 44(2):1995 Jan 20.

The botulism outbreak associated with salted fish mentioned above is reported in greater detail in MMWR 36(49):1987 Dec 18. For more information on recent outbreaks see the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports from CDC. (Source: FDA Bad Bug Book)

Incidence statistics for Botulism food poisoning:

The following statistics relate to the incidence of Botulism food poisoning:

  • 2 cases in NJ 1998 (NJ DHSS)
  • 0 new cases of botulism per 100,000 population was notified in Australia 2002 (Yohannes K, Roche P, Blumer C et al. 2004, Australia’s Health 2004, AIHW)
  • 0 new cases of botulism was notified in Australia 2002 (Yohannes K, Roche P, Blumer C et al. 2004, Australia’s Health 2004, AIHW)
  • more statistics...»

About prevalence and incidence statistics:

The term 'prevalence' of Botulism food poisoning usually refers to the estimated population of people who are managing Botulism food poisoning at any given time. The term 'incidence' of Botulism food poisoning refers to the annual diagnosis rate, or the number of new cases of Botulism food poisoning diagnosed each year. Hence, these two statistics types can differ: a short-lived disease like flu can have high annual incidence but low prevalence, but a life-long disease like diabetes has a low annual incidence but high prevalence. For more information see about prevalence and incidence statistics.


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