Hanoi poison victim succumbs to botulinum in vegan pate
Doctor Nguyen Trung Nguyen, director of the poison control center of Bach Mai Hospital in Hanoi, said Friday the deceased was elderly, has many background diseases and had suffered a serious bout of poisoning consuming Minh Chay vegan pate.
The patient’s health slowly improved after treatment at the end of August, before worsening. The family had subsequently asked the hospital’s permission to take him home, where he died, according to Nguyen.
He was the first death by botulinum poisoning recorded in Vietnam.
The elderly man and his 68-year-old wife had eaten Minh Chay vegan pate produced by Loi Song Moi (New Lifestyle) Company in Hanoi’s Dong Anh District since July, showing signs of poisoning a month later. The couple was transferred to Bach Mai Hospital for treatment on August 18.
Both were hospitalized with sore throats, difficulty in speaking and swallowing, along with weakness in their arms and legs. The man showed signs of complete paralysis of the muscles from head to toe and could not breathe. He had to depend on a ventilator.
His wife recovered and was earlier discharged from the hospital and is now in stable condition.
Botulinum poisoning was detected at multiple hospitals across Vietnam starting July. Investigations revealed that several had consumed vegan pate products from Loi Song Moi Company. Tests on the vegan pate later showed it contained clostridium botulinum, a type of anaerobic bacteria capable of producing strong neurotoxins that block nerve functions and cause paralysis or even death.
So far, 16 poisoned customers have been recorded at hospitals in Hanoi, HCMC, Khanh Hoa, Dong Nai, Long An, Binh Duong and Quang Nam. They experienced symptoms like headaches, dizziness, muscle weakness and paralysis, with many critical cases placed on ventilators.
Loi Song Moi has been fined VND17.5 million ($755) for failing to meet food safety standards following the incident. Their products are being recalled nationwide.
Botulinum toxins are ingested through food in which the bacteria or the spores survive, then grow and produce the toxins, according to doctors.
Botulinum poisoning has never appeared in Vietnam in the past 30 years, so the country has no antitoxin serum, which must be imported from abroad. The World Health Organization last September delivered 12 botulism antitoxins from Switzerland and Thailand to Vietnam to treat patients poisoned by vegan pate contaminated with botulinum.
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