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Botulism Scare in Thailand Shakes US

In Thailand’s Northern Province of Nan Clostridium botulism disease outbreak has created a lot of confusion among the U.S. disease investigators//. US weapon specialists are put on full alert.

This is because botulism, a rare yet lethal bacterial disease could potentially be used as a biological weapon. Almost 150 people in the province have been stricken by the disease. Health authorities have sought international assistance treating the patients.

Thai Disease Control Department chief Thawat Suntharacharn said that U.S. military biological weapons experts and the World Health Organization disease specialists have flown into Nan to bring the situation under control.

Since March 4, 143 villagers in Nan's Ban Luang district have been diagnosed as suffering from botulism, a disease caused by toxins produced by several members of a group of bacteria known as Clostridium botulinum.

Nan chief health officer Dr. Pisit Sriprasert said that all of the patients have eaten dishes containing preserved bamboo shoots from the same batch at a merit-making feast in their village. Shortly after eating the shoots they began to suffer similar symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea, difficult swallowing, dry mouth and muscle weakness.

Out of the 147 patients, 33 are currently breathing with the aid of respirators. The bacterium is among three other bacterial strains such as anthrax and smallpox that can be used as a biological warfare agent.


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