European Union health authorities have issued a worldwide alert after detecting 14 cases of botulism in patients who underwent weight loss surgery in Istanbul, where botulinum toxin is injected into the digestive system. Botulism is a rare but serious disease caused by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Some affected patients have been hospitalized and required admission to the intensive care unit. Authorities in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland have already held a first meeting to assess the situation. The authorities recommend that anyone who has traveled to Turkey for cosmetic surgery with botulinum toxin and presents symptoms compatible with botulism seek urgent medical assistance.
The clinic in Istanbul, where all those affected underwent surgery, is at the center of the outbreak. The cases detected in Germany correspond to “middle-aged adults from various regions of the country.” In Austria, a woman between 25 and 44 years of age traveled to Istanbul on her own and underwent surgery on February 22 at the same health center. In addition, Switzerland notified France of another suspected case, that of a woman aged 45 to 64 years. Despite the confirmation of the European alert, there is no evidence of Spanish citizens being affected.
Botulism is a rare disease that can be caused by food contamination, wounds, medical treatment, or bioterrorism. Symptoms of foodborne botulism include difficulty breathing, muscle paralysis, and even death. On the other hand, symptoms of wound botulism may include difficulty breathing and swallowing, paralysis, and others. In infant botulism, symptoms include unsteady movements, constipation, and crying, among others.