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Outbreak of botulism in France: Bordeaux

14 September 2023

According to the United Kingdom Health Security Agency (UKHSA), French public health authorities have reported an outbreak of foodborne botulism linked to one restaurant in Bordeaux. A small number of British nationals is reported to have been affected.

The outbreak is linked to marinaded sardines served by the Tchin Tchin Wine Bar in Bordeaux. People who ate at the Tchin Tchin Wine Bar, Bordeaux between 4 and 10 September 2023 are advised to contact the nearest Emergency Department.

Symptoms of botulism can develop within a few hours to several days after exposure. In food borne botulism gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, may precede neurological symptoms but are not always present. It is noted that initial symptoms of diarrhoea could be followed by constipation. Neurological symptoms may include generalised / facial weakness, visual impairment, fatigue, paralysis, breathing and/or swallowing difficulties

Treatment may include administration of botulinum anti-toxin, and severe cases often require intensive care treatment. If treatment is successful, complete recovery can take weeks to months. The fatality rate following food-borne botulism is 5-10%.

Advice for Travellers

All travellers, irrespective of destination are potentially at risk of botulism infection. Travellers should be advised to:

  • practice good hand hygiene and effective food and water precautions at all times

  • avoid eating food from bulging or damaged cans, foul-smelling preserved foods, foods stored at the incorrect temperature or out-of-date foods

  • avoid/exercise caution around consuming food that is home canned/preserved/cured (including honey from local unregulated suppliers) as these have occasionally been shown to be a source of infection

  • avoid storing food whlst travelling unless they have access to appropriate facilities - many cases of botulism are linked to food that is improperly refrigerated prior to consumption

  • seek urgent medical advice if they develop symptoms

  • NHS UK: Botulism

Further information