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Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases
Volume 14, Issue 4, Pages 206-209
Original Article

An Outbreak of Foodborne Botulism in Ontario

Mona R Loutfy,1 John W Austin,2 Burke Blanchfield,2 and Ignatius W Fong1

1Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
2Botulism Reference Service for Canada, Health Protection Branch, Health Canada, Ottawa, Ontario and Division of Infectious Disease, St Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Received 23 December 2002; Accepted 29 April 2003

Copyright © 2003 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Botulism is a rare paralytic illness resulting from a potent neurotoxin produced by Clostridium botulinum. Botulism in Canada is predominately due to C botulinum type E and affects mainly the First Nations and Inuit populations. The most recent outbreak of botulism in Ontario was in Ottawa in 1991 and was caused by C botulinum type A. We report an outbreak of foodborne type B botulism in Ontario, which implicated home-canned tomatoes. The outbreak was characterized by mild symptoms in two cases and moderately severe illness in one case. The investigation shows the importance of considering the diagnosis of botulism in patients presenting with cranial nerve and autonomic dysfunction, especially when combined with gastrointestinal complaints; it also highlights the importance of proper home canning technique.