China – Research – Vital Surveillances: Epidemiological Analysis of Foodborne Botulism Outbreaks — China, 2004–2020

China CDC



IntroductionFoodborne botulism is a rare, potentially fatal illness resulting from the ingestion of foods contaminated with preformed botulinum neurotoxin types A, B, E, or F, produced by Clostridium botulinum. The descriptive epidemiology of foodborne botulism outbreaks in China during 2004−2020 was performed to inform public health response strategies.


During 2004−2020, a total of 80 foodborne botulism outbreaks occurred in China, involving 386 illnesses and 55 deaths; most outbreaks were reported between June and August, with a sharp peak in January; 22 out of 31 PLADs reported foodborne botulism outbreaks, Xinjiang reported the largest number of outbreaks (20), followed by Qinghai (13); the most commonly implicated food was home-prepared traditional processed stinky tofu and dried beef, accounting for 51.25% events. Improper processing and improper storage in contributing factors accounted for 77.50% outbreaks. Initial misdiagnosis occurred in 27.50% of cases.


Outbreaks of foodborne botulism had a high case-fatality rate. Targeted food safety and popularization education to farmers and herdsmen in Xinjiang and Qinghai related to botulism prevention should be carried out, and timely outbreak investigation and hospital surge capacity should be improved.

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