COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Heath officials said Wednesday they are working to determine which food from a church potluck might have caused a suspected botulism outbreak that left one person dead and 23 others sick.
Doctors and officials said at a news conference Wednesday that health workers are interviewing those who attended the Sunday potluck at Cross Pointe Free Will Baptist Church in Lancaster to determine what might have caused the outbreak.
Fairfield Medical Center announced Tuesday that one woman had died of the suspected illness and at least 18 were sickened. The number of ill rose to 23 Wednesday.
Dr. Mark Aebi with Fairfield County Health said health officials are collecting samples from the church's trash bin for leads. They're also going into homes to test samples of homemade canned items that were used for some of the dishes at the potluck.
Officials have narrowed down their search to a few items that seem suspect, Aebi said.
Dr. Andrew Murry with the Fairfield Medical Center said a botulism antitoxin arrived in Ohio at around midnight Wednesday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It was then distributed to the several central Ohio hospitals treating the 23 patients with suspected cases of botulism.
Doctors are waiting on test results to confirm the illness, but doctors are fairly certain it's botulism, Murry said.
Symptoms include blurred or double vision, drooping eyelids, difficulty swallowing and shortness of breath.
Doctors are also confident the illness is specific to those who attended the potluck, not a communitywide outbreak.
"Every person that we've seen was at this potluck," Murry said.
About 50 to 60 people attended the potluck. Doctors said those who attended the event but have not displayed symptoms should be watched closely for the next 10 days.
Doctors have stressed that botulism is not contagious. Symptoms usually begin within 18 to 36 hours after consuming contaminated food but can occur up to 10 days later.
Officials said the Ohio Department of Health will be providing updates on the outbreak and the patients receiving treatment.