April 2014
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Hot Dog Chili Flu Still Holds U.S. in Terrible Grip

Two important updates:

First, it’s entirely possible that Keith Regan was simply hungover, and did not contract botulism from canned chili:

A state Department of Health official yesterday discounted a second reported case of botulism on Maui because the symptoms “didn’t meet the criteria” for the foodborne illness.

Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo said the man who became ill, Wailuku attorney Keith Regan, was not hospitalized after going to the Maui Memorial Medical Center emergency room on Friday, and that no testing was ordered to determine if he had eaten food containing the botulinum toxin, which affects the nervous system and can cause paralysis and death.

Health officials continue to await results of laboratory tests on samples from another Maui man, Jon Stockton, 33, of Hana, who said he became ill after eating Cattle Drive canned chili last week. Okubo said the results could be available as early as today.

Let’s hear it from Mr. Regan’s own lips:

Regan said he consumed [Cattle Drive] chili July 20 and suffered severe stomach distress throughout that weekend. “It felt like I was kind of catching a cold. I didn’t feel quite right, but I shrugged it off,” he said yesterday. “I thought my body was fighting off the flu.”

By the following Monday, Regan said, he was better but “I still felt tired and really lethargic throughout the whole week.” On Thursday, he experienced blurred vision and then heard about the food recall and sought treatment at Maui Memorial.

Because no testing was done, Regan said, he doesn’t know if he had botulism or not. “I’m not sure. I just know I didn’t feel right, and when I heard about the other guy, it made me think about what I had been eating,” he said.

You should always think about what you are eating.  In other news, another potential case of botulism may have been contracted from one of the disease-producing Castleberry’s Food Company products:

Indianapolis - State health officials are investigating a third suspected case of botulism that an Indiana resident may have contracted by eating one of the products included in a recent canned meat recall.

The person ate one of the products on Sunday and became ill, although officials will not know whether it is botulism until test results return in a few days, said Lynae Granzow, an epidemiologist with the Indiana Department of Health. Granzow said Tuesday she was not sure which of the recalled products the patient might have eaten.

“Even though this recall has been out and we keep asking the media and the public to communicate the message, persons still are unaware of it,” she said. “Make sure this is absolutely not on your shelves.”

The government has told people to immediately throw away more than 90 different products, from chili sauce to corned beef hash to dog food, produced at a Castleberry’s Food Co. plant linked to a botulism outbreak.

Indiana health officials last week stepped up efforts to pull the products from store shelves around the state, saying the recall message that warned of a link to botulism had not been heard by everyone.

So far, four confirmed cases of botulism have been reported – two from Indiana and two from Texas. All four people consumed Hot Dog Chili Sauce Original, a product made by Castleberry’s.

Charles and Sandy Trammel were Indiana’s first two victims of botulism, contracted from eating Castleberry’s Original Hot Dog Chili Sauce.  This is not the first time packaged chili has caused botulism.  A safer chili can be made with this recipe.  Other chili recipes may follow.

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