Three people hospitalized since May 2019
SANTA FE - The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) is investigating it’s third suspected case of wound botulism of 2019.
The patient is currently hospitalized in Albuquerque with suspected wound botulism. Two previous confirmed cases led to patients being hospitalized in May and October. All three cases reported injection drug use. Previous cases in the state have been linked primarily to black tar heroin use, and, in some cases, injecting methamphetamine.
Botulism is a rare but serious paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Wound botulism is caused by toxin produced from a wound infected with Clostridium botulinum. Injecting illegal drugs under the skin where there is little or no oxygen available allows it to grow. Left untreated, it can lead to progressive muscle paralysis and death.
Healthcare providers are advised to consider the possibility of botulism in any patient reporting injecting drugs and presenting with the following signs and/or symptoms:
- double vision
- blurred vision
- drooping eyelids
- slurred speech
- difficulty swallowing
- dry mouth
- muscle weakness/descending paralysis
- difficulty breathing/shortness of breath
These are all signs and symptoms of the muscle paralysis caused by the bacterial toxin.
Healthcare providers should also consider the diagnosis if the patient's history and physical examination suggest botulism.
The Department of Health also recommends:
- Warning drugs users about wound botulism. Inform them of the signs and symptoms and the need to seek medical care immediately
- Report any suspect cases to the New Mexico Department of Health 24/7/365 at (505) 827-0006 so that antitoxin can be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as soon as possible.
For more on wound botulism visit https://www.cdc.gov/botulism/wound-botulism.html.