Category Archives: Clostridium

Research – Recent Developments in Botulinum Neurotoxins Detection



Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) are produced as protein complexes by bacteria of the genus Clostridium that are Gram-positive, anaerobic and spore forming (Clostridium botulinumC. butyricumC. baratii and C. argentinense spp.). BoNTs show a high immunological and genetic diversity. Therefore, fast, precise, and more reliable detection methods are still required to monitor outbreaks and ensure surveillance of botulism. The botulinum toxin field also comprises therapeutic uses, basic research studies and biodefense issues. This review presents currently available detection methods, and new methods offering the potential of enhanced precision and reproducibility. While the immunological methods offer a range of benefits, such as rapid analysis time, reproducibility and high sensitivity, their implementation is subject to the availability of suitable tools and reagents, such as specific antibodies. Currently, the mass spectrometry approach is the most sensitive in vitro method for a rapid detection of active or inactive forms of BoNTs. However, these methods require inter-laboratory validation before they can be more widely implemented in reference laboratories. In addition, these surrogate in vitro models also require full validation before they can be used as replacement bioassays of potency. Cell-based assays using neuronal cells in culture recapitulate all functional steps of toxin activity, but are still at various stages of development; they are not yet sufficiently robust, due to high batch-to-batch cell variability. Cell-based assays have a strong potential to replace the mouse bioassay (MBA) in terms of BoNT potency determination in pharmaceutical formulations; they can also help to identify suitable inhibitors while reducing the number of animals used. However, the development of safe countermeasures still requires the use of in vivo studies to complement in vitro immunological or cell-based approaches. View Full-Text

Research – Clostridioides difficile positivity rate and PCR ribotype distribution on retail potatoes in 12 European countries, January to June 2018 separator


 infection (CDI) is a notable cause of infectious diarrhoea worldwide. In Europe, the estimated number of CDI cases in 2011–12 was 123,997 (95% confidence interval (CI): 61,018–284,857), based on a survey of healthcare-associated infections performed by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) [1]. In 2016, as part of  surveillance performed by ECDC, 556 hospitals from 20 countries covering 24 million patient-days reported 7,711 CDI cases [2]. The symptoms can range from mild diarrhoea to potentially fatal pseudomembranous colitis. While historically regarded as a typical healthcare infection, community CDI is increasingly recognised [3].

In CDI, human-to-human transmission plays a major role, but other infection sources and transmission routes are under investigation.  has been repeatedly isolated from various foods worldwide, and it is feasible that some foods could be important vectors for its widespread dissemination [3]. Some important healthcare-associated  PCR ribotypes (RT) such as RT 027 and RT 001/072 tend to spread clonally within a single hospital, region or country, while others such as RT 014, RT 002 and RT 015 do not exhibit country-based clustering and are most likely disseminated across Europe by other sources possibly including the food chain [4]. Confirmed cases of food-associated CDI have so far not been described [3].

Existing evidence suggests that potatoes, which represent a major staple food consumed worldwide, could contribute to the spread of . Potatoes have the highest  contamination rates among all vegetables tested to date; the proportion of -positive retail potato samples ranges from 25.7% (18/70) to 53.3% (24/45) [5,6]. By contrast, the highest positivity rate in other types of vegetables such as leaf vegetables, ginger, sprouts and ready-to-eat salads is 9.4% [58] and in meats and meat products, reported positivity rates are typically below 20% [8,9]. Additionally, diverse and clinically relevant  PCR ribotypes have been previously recovered from potatoes. Certain PCR ribotypes such as RT 014/020, which are suggested to spread by non-clonal transmission networks [4], are among those often detected on potatoes [5,6]. Furthermore, potatoes are frequently imported and exported between countries. A previous study from Slovenia reported that 78.9% (15/19) of -positive retail potatoes were imported from more than 10 countries on three different continents [6].

Here we present the results of a European-wide study on  contamination of retail potatoes. Identical protocols for sampling and isolation were used for all 12 studied countries, enabling a direct comparison of the positivity rates of  on potatoes.

Italy – Food safety, episode of botulism linked to the consumption of a package of pesto and almonds



It is reported that a laboratory confirmed case of botulism occurred in Rome. 

The epidemiological investigation has identified as a suspect food a Sicilian broccoli and almond pesto which , according to the information available to date, appears to have been given as a gift about two months earlier .  

In the food exhibit analyzed by the ISS for the search for toxins and botulinum spores, which was still negative, it was reported  in the label of the glass jar.

 The biodynamic farm – Sicilian broccoli pesto and almonds.
Product grown strictly following the biodynamic method controlled by BIO -DYNAMIC RESEARCH INSTITUTE and packaged by The biodynamic farm, Strada Freddano, 20 – 01100 Viterbo.
210g and Ingredients: biodynamic Sicilian broccoli, almonds.

Store in the refrigerator after opening, at a temperature of 4 ° C and consume quickly “.

No batch or expiry date was indicated on the label and on the guarantee seal of the jar .

Following the investigations of the local competent authorities at the farm  and  as declared by the current owner , it emerged that   the  pesto was produced for self –  consumption  and that from November 2021  the production of all the preserves   was  suspended  . It was not possible to trace the exact number of jars of Sicilian broccoli pesto and almonds produced, nor how many were possibly given away.

Citizens are therefore invited, as a precaution, not to consume the aforementioned Sicilian broccoli and almond pesto, possibly received as a gift, paying attention to non-compliant labeling due to lack of batch and expiry  or  even absent.

The Istituto Superiore di Sanità  represents that  Clostridium  botulinum  (botulinum) is an environmental spore-forming microorganism that can naturally contaminate raw materials and composite foods. Generally the level of environmental contamination in botulinum spores is very low and can be punctate, therefore in the same production batch, it can occur that only some packages are contaminated. Since the consumption of minimal quantities of food contaminated with botulinum toxins can cause the disease, anyone holding a jar that corresponds to the above characteristics should also avoid tasting it.

Possessors of suspicious packs can safely eliminate them using the following procedure:

  • Completely immerse the package in a pot containing water (bain marie).
  • Bring the water to a boil for at least 30 minutes.
  • Cool the package.
  • Open the package and dispose of its contents following the procedures currently used for the disposal of organic waste.

Israel – Mercato brand Acorn mini-kabob – Clostridium perfringens


 Carmel Delicacies Ltd. recalls Mercato brand Acorn mini-kabob (880g; Expiration date 19.6.2022) due to Clostridium perfringens contamination.

USA – Suspected botulism death prompts warning about home-canned food

Food Safety News

Public health officials in Washington state are urging people to practice safe procedures for home canning after a man died during the weekend.

The man, from Grays Harbor County, was between 55 and 65 years old, according to a news release from the public health department. 

The department has not yet released any other information about the man, except to say it is believed he died from botulism poisoning. Testing is ongoing to confirm the cause of death.

“Grays Harbor County Environmental Health assisted the property owner with the safe disposal of around 170 pint-sized jars of home-canned food and canning jars per CDC guidelines,” according to the county’s news release. 

Botulism is odorless and cannot be seen or tasted; however, even a small taste of food containing the toxin can be deadly, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease control and Prevention, the county release warns.

USA -Soul Cedar Farm Recalls Zesty Sweet Peppers for Possible Botulism


Soul Cedar Farm in Quilcene, Washington is voluntarily recalling all batches of shelf-stable Zesty Sweet Peppers because they have the potential to be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum toxin, according to the Washington State Department of Health. As of April 19, 2022 there are no reports of illness that are associated with the consumption of this product.

Argentina – Two botulism cases reported in Buenos Aires – Clostridium botulinum

Outbreak News Today

Two women have been hospitalized for botulism, including one in serious condition, according to a La Voz report.

The patients ate matambre (Argentian flank steak) and Russian salad delivered from a  traditional restaurant in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Boedo.

“The salad is prepared with boiled potatoes and carrots and dried peas soaked in a can, with salt and mayonnaise added. Orders are shipped in disposable plastic containers with lids, and they include four slices of homemade matambre along with a portion of Russian salad”, according to the restaurant.

Research – Two Case Reports of Scombroid in Singapore: A Literature Review



Scombroid is a foodborne illness that results from eating improperly handled fish. Due to a disruption in the cold chain, these fish have high histamine levels. As a result, scombroid presents with allergy-like symptoms but is not really an allergy per se. Cases have been reported in many countries.

Here, we report two cases of a 48 and 17-year-old father and son in Singapore who developed symptoms suggestive of scombroid after eating tuna imported from Vietnam delivered by an internationally known supply company. The diagnosis was confirmed by elevated histamine levels measured in the culprit fish product. We discuss the pathophysiology, signs, symptoms, and management of scombroid.


Scombrotoxin fish poisoning (SFP) also known as scombroid poisoning, scombrotoxicosis, or histamine fish poisoning is a foodborne illness that results from the consumption of fish that has been improperly handled between the time it is caught and the time it is cooked [1]. The word “scombroid” is derived from Scombridae which is a family of dark-fleshed fish consisting of species such as mackerel and tuna. However, non-scombroid fishes such as mahi-mahi, salmon, and sardine have also been implicated in scombroid poisoning [2].

Scombroid poisoning is very common. A 2013 report from the United States estimated over 35,000 cases resulting in 162 hospital admissions between 2000 and 2009 [3]. Scombroid cases have also been reported from countries such as Australia [4], the Netherlands [5], Israel [6], Colombia [7], and many others.

Inappropriate storage, resulting in disruption of the cold chain, of the fish leads to bacterial enzymatic conversion of free histidine into histamine. This is due to the action of bacterial histamine decarboxylase (HDC), usually by mesophilic bacteria such as Clostridium perfringensMorganella morganii, etc. As a result, high levels of histamine are usually found in the culprit seafood item [8]. Whether histamine is the only constituent of “scombrotoxin” is unclear. Nevertheless, the symptomatology is essentially that of histamine toxicity. It is considered an atypical foodborne illness as the main symptoms are not gastrointestinal and also because it is not due to contamination of the product.

While mostly self-limiting and mild, there have been reports of life-threatening scombroid poisoning. A previously healthy young woman developed hypotension needing vasopressors with ST depressions [9] while another scombroid poisoning was complicated by acute pancreatitis [10]. Some cases were severe enough to need ICU admissions. A recent narrative discussed acute coronary syndromes (ACS) associated with scombroid. Of note, there is a potential of hemodynamic failure in the acute stage, even in apparently healthy people [11].

Closer to home, in September 2016, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) of Singapore issued a recall order on a batch of canned tuna imported from Thailand under a common food brand. This was reported in various newspapers such as The Straits Times and The Independent. In one issue of the Singapore Food Agency’s Food Safety Bulletin in 2018, there was a segment on scombroid. Interestingly, however, a PubMed search was conducted and while we found a case of pufferfish poisoning reported in 2013 [12] and a report of stonefish poisoning in 2009 [13], we found no reports of scombroid poisoning in Singapore. We report two confirmed cases of scombroid poisoning who are from the same household who presented to our hospital after consuming tuna for dinner.

RASFF Alert – Animal Feed – Clostridium perfringens – Fish Meal


The presence of Clostridium perfringens in fishmeal from the Czech Republic in Romania

Research – Death by duck paste: Centenary of the Loch Maree botulism tragedy

Press and Journal


There were 13 fishermen, two wives, 17 ghillies and three mountain climbers in the party, and they set out that morning with packed lunches prepared by the hotel staff.

The picnic included duck paste sandwiches, the paste coming from the firm of Lazenby & Sons of London.

Little did the diners know that they were carrying a ticking time bomb between slices of bread in their hampers, and that eight of their number would be dead within days.

Read the story at the Link Above