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NMDOH investigating wound botulism cases

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The state Department of Health announced Wednesday it is investigating a pair of wound botulism cases, one confirmed and one suspected.

An Eddy County man, 28, is hospitalized with the serious illness, likely from contaminated black tar heroin, and another male, 29, from Eddy County with a history of drug use is being treated for a suspected case of it, NMDOH said in a news release.

“Healthcare providers need to consider wound botulism in patients who are showing symptoms, especially if they have a history of injection drug use,” said DOH Secretary-Designate Dr. Tracie Collins said in a statement. “People who inject drugs should be aware of wound botulism and seek immediate medical attention if they are experiencing any signs or symptoms of the disease.”

Botulism is a paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Wound botulism is caused by a toxin produced from a wound infected with the same bacterium, according to the release.

Injecting a drug like heroin under the skin allows bacterium to grow and produce a deadly toxin that can result in progressive muscle paralysis and occasionally death.

Symptoms of botulism include: double or blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, muscle weakness/descending paralysis and difficulty breathing/shortness of breath.

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