1 Dead, 20 Sickened by Botulism After Church Potluck, Hospital Says

One person died and 20 others were sickened with botulism after attending a church potluck in Ohio, according to the hospital that treated the patients.

All of the 21 people brought to the Fairfield Medical Center Emergency Department in Lancaster, Ohio, had attended a potluck on Sunday at the Cross Pointe Free Will Baptist Church in Lancaster.

Of those, five were critical patients in the Intensive Care Unit/Progressive Care Unit, 10 were transported to Columbus hospitals, and five were being treated in the Emergency Department, the medical center said Tuesday evening.

An anti-toxin was being sent from the Centers for Disease Control and supportive treatment was being provided, the hospital said.

Botulism is a rare paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin. It is not contagious.

Symptoms include double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids and difficulty swallowing. Symptoms usually start within 18-36 hours after consuming contaminated food, but can occur up to 10 days post-ingestion.

According to the CDC, there are an average of 145 cases of botulism reported each year. Of these, approximately 15 percent are foodborne, 65 percent are infant botulism, and 20 percent are wound. Outbreaks of foodborne botulism involving two or more persons occur most years and are usually caused by home-canned foods, the CDC says.