ARGENTINA – Recently, botulism and E. coli have been the subject of warnings from public health authorities in Argentina.

In order to prevent foodborne botulism, the National Food Safety and Quality Service (Senasa) has advised the safe and responsible consumption of canned food and other packaged items of animal and vegetable origin, particularly during the summer when high temperatures favor the growth of bacteria.

The biggest threat comes from improperly packed, preserved, or processed foods like vegetables or dry meats.

Botulism is a rare but potentially fatal disorder brought on by toxins produced by the Clostridium botulinum bacteria. Growth does not occur in acidic conditions with pH values below 4.6.

Senasa asked the public to only consume foods that have been authorized by the appropriate authorities, bearing information on the producer, batch, and shelf life as well as the authorization number for the product and producer.

Consumers shouldn’t consume unlabeled products, the agency added. It also advised consumers to avoid food in cans with damaged, bulging, or swollen lids.

The Cordoba Ministry of Health has also made public that the province registered a total of 26 cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) brought on by E. coli in 2022.

Nearly 80% of them were males and females under the age of five. 25 patients were confirmed in 2021, down from 34 in 2020, 37 in 2019, and 38 in 2018.

Seven incidents in 2022 involved infants under one year old, while 18 involved children ages two to four. The other patient was between the ages of 5 and 9. Nine were female and seventeen were male.

About 5 to 10 percent of people with an E. coli infection go on to get potentially fatal kidney failure consequences.

According to authorities, using potable water for cooking or drinking, thorough cooking of meat, adequate washing of vegetables eaten raw, and good hand and surface hygiene are key precautions to prevent illness.

Meanwhile, in Rosario, the Baha Blanca Ministry of Health has informed that six patients were reported in 2022 and one in 2023 so far. They ranged in age from 2 to 12 years old.

A 4-year-old girl in Salta was also recently diagnosed with HUS, reports Food Safety News.

Every year on August 19, Argentina marks a national day to raise awareness about HUS and how to prevent the disease.

E.coli infections

The symptoms of Escherichia coli (E. coli) infections include severe stomach cramps and diarrhea, which is often bloody but often varies for each person. Some patients may also have a fever.

Most patients recover within five to seven days. Others can develop severe or life-threatening symptoms and complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

About 5 to 10 percent of those diagnosed with E. coli infections develop a potentially life-threatening kidney failure complication, known as a hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Symptoms of HUS include fever, abdominal pain, feeling very tired, decreased frequency of urination, small unexplained bruises or bleeding, and pallor.

Many people with HUS recover within a few weeks, but some suffer permanent injuries or death.

This condition can occur among people of any age but is most common in children younger than five years old because of their immature immune systems, older adults because of deteriorating immune systems, and people with compromised immune systems such as cancer patients.

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