Congregant: No hard feelings over botulism at church potluck

AP News
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Posted: Aug 14, 2015 11:06 AM

LANCASTER, Ohio (AP) — One of the 30 congregants sickened with botulism after a church potluck in April says no one there has any animosity toward the person who made the potato salad that was blamed for the outbreak.

Debbie Wright of Cross Pointe Freewill Baptist Church told the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette (http://ohne.ws/1HIrKLK) the infection has left her with breathing problems, but she and the church's pastor, the Rev. Bill Pitts, said they understand it was an accident and don't hold any grudges.

"It was something that happened, that no one could have foreseen," Pitts said.

Wright said the sickness has been hard on her because she's a singer and was affected from the chest up. She is still having ill effects but said she's making progress.

"That's what hits me the most because I'm a singer by trade," she said. "I teach music. I mean, I eat, drink and sleep music. But I did speech therapy, and if they told me to do 10 exercises, I did 20. I really rehabbed myself from when they said you could start it. So I think that's why it's gotten me to where I am today."

Of the 30 people who showed signs of the rare illness, 21 were hospitalized and one died. One victim will remain hospitalized for the next few weeks with complications from pneumonia, Pitts said.

The botulism case was likely caused by home-canned potatoes in potato salad at the luncheon, state officials have said. The illness is caused by a nerve toxin produced by bacteria.

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Information from: Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, http://www.lancastereaglegazette.com