Botulism is the cause of the death of a Greek woman who was on vacation in Bordeaux, France, as was announced by the French health authorities.
The woman died a few hours after having lunch at the Tchin Tchin Wine Bar restaurant in the heart of Bordeaux. Her husband and father, who accompanied her to the meal, are severely hospitalised.
At the same time, at least ten more people seem to have suffered poisoning and are hospitalised. The treating doctors report that their condition is critical. In particular, seven are hospitalised in the intensive care unit, and five receive respiratory therapy.
"All the cases were recorded in the same store in Bordeaux between Monday, September 4, and Sunday, September 10, 2023. All of them consumed sardines in jars made by the restaurateur," the French authorities said.
They had lunch at the same restaurant. For this reason, authorities urged anyone who experiences symptoms such as nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, blurred vision, dry mouth and paralysis to seek immediate medical attention.
"All the patients who were admitted were treated with antitoxins," informed Benjamin Clouzeau, a doctor in the intensive care unit, noting that those diagnosed with a problem are likely to suffer for up to two weeks because the bacteria is not destroyed it is not allowed to spread further.
Local newspaper Sud-Ouest quoted the restaurant owner as saying he had thrown out some of the jars containing sardines because of a "strong smell" from the containers when opened.
But others "appeared in good condition and were served up to customers", he said.
The restaurant was closed Wednesday and the owner told to abstain from any more home-made sardine preparations, with the authorities seizing the remaining sardines for further testing.
The establishment, which had never had previous hygiene issues, will be thoroughly cleaned.
Botulism is deadly in five to 10 percent of cases because of a toxin that can be generated by clostridium botulinum bacteria when preserved food is insufficiently sterilised.
Authorities were still running tests at the restaurant, the DGS said, adding it could not rule out further cases of botulism which has an incubation period of up to several days.