Monday, May 1, 2017

Deer Antler Tea Source of Botulinum Illnesses

A deer antler tea product may be responsible for two cases of botulism in Los Angeles.  Botulism is deadly disease caused by the toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum.   This neurotoxin stops neural signals resulting in double vision, slurred speech and difficulty swallowing.  If not treated, it can lead to death by suffocation.  
 How did the botulinum toxin get into this antler tea product? If one had to make a guess, it was after the extraction process.  To make the antler tea, antlers would be heated to pull out the marrow creating a broth and then this would be cooled to make a gelatinous material that would be packaged.  As in a typical C. botulinum growth scenario, when the product is heated to create the marrow broth, the high temperatures kills the competing spoilage organisms and creates an anaerobic environment in the marrow broth.  When the product is cooled, but held above refrigeration temperatures, C. botulinum grows and produces its toxin.  Generally an item like this would either need to be refrigerated or acidified.  A preservative can also be added to prevent growth.
The benefits of drinking antler tea are said to include helping with arthritis, preventing osteoporosis, promoting the health of the joints and repairing connective tissues, nourishing the spleen and the kidney, a defense against cancer cells, boosting the HB count in the blood, treating sexual disorders, increasing stamina and actual physical strength while also improving mental capacity, helping women who have vaginal discharge problems, flooding and spotting and it also helps in stanching excessive uterine bleeding.  Who knew.
LA Times
Tea made from deer antlers may cause botulism; health officials issue alert 
Rong-Gong Lin IIBy Rong-Gong Lin II•Contact Reporter
April 29, 2017, 3:00 AM 
Tea made from deer antlers may have sickened two Orange County residents with botulism, a serious illness caused by a bacteria that can cause paralysis, breathing difficulty and is potentially deadly.
One adult has a confirmed case of botulism, and the other has a suspected case, the Orange County Health Care Agency said Friday. An investigation by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health suggests the botulism illnesses may be connected with drinking deer antler tea obtained in March.
Health officials said anyone who purchased products in March should dispose of them. Photographs of the package released by L.A. County health officials feature illustrations of deer and roots.
Botulism is an illness caused by a toxin made by a bacterium. Symptoms of the illness include:
  • weakness
  • double vision
  • blurred vision
  • drooping eyelids
  • slurred speech
  • difficulty swallowing
  • dry mouth
  • muscle weakness.
Without medical attention, a person with botulism can begin to suffer paralysis of the respiratory muscles, arms, leg and trunk. In severe cases, patients may need to be hooked up to a machine to help them breathe for weeks or months.
Illness generally begins between 18 to 36 hours after consuming the contaminated food or beverage, but symptoms can begin to show up as soon as 6 hours to as long as 10 days later.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says anyone with symptoms that suggest botulism should speak to a healthcare provider or go to the emergency room. An antitoxin is available that can prevent worsening of paralysis if administered before paralysis is complete.

Survivors of botulism poisoning can suffer from fatigue and shortness of breath for years and may need long-term therapy, according to the CDC. In rare cases, botulism can cause death from respiratory failure, or from infections or other complications related to paralysis.

Public health officials consider a single case of botulism a public health emergency, because it might foretell a larger outbreak, according to the CDC.

The largest U.S. botulism outbreak in 40 years struck in 2015, caused by potatoes in a salad that were improperly canned at home and served at a church potluck in Ohio’s Fairfield County, just east of Columbus. One person died of respiratory failure after arriving at the emergency room.

Of the 77 people who ate at the potluck, 25 were confirmed to have contracted botulism, and four more probably had the illness. The CDC had to rush doses of the antitoxin from its Strategic National Stockpile to Ohio so the patients could be treated.

The CDC determined that the person who prepared the potato salad used a boiling water canner that does not kill spores of the bacterium that causes botulism. A pressure canner, on the other hand, does eliminate the spores. The canned potatoes also were not heated after removal from the can, which would have killed the toxin.

FDA Recall Notice
U.S. Deer Antler EX. & IM., INC. Announces The Recall Of Herbal Tea Varieties In Pouches Due To Risk For Clostridium Botulinum
For Immediate Release
May 1, 2017

Consumers Joong W. Park  (323) 735-9665
View Product Photos

U.S. Deer Antler Ex. & Imp., of Los Angeles, CA is recalling a variety of Herbal Teas prepared on premises between 4/1/17 and 4/30/17 in cooperation with an inspection made by the California Department of Public Health. The aforementioned Herbal Teas, especially those with low-acidity held at room temperature, were not produced according to approved guideline, making them susceptible to contamination by Clostridium botulinum.

Below are the product descriptions and photographs:

ProductsPackagingCasesHerbal Tea Variety Batches prepared on premise between 4/1/17 – 4/30/17 120 ml/ Pouch 40 Pouches / Case

The Herbal Teas were distributed to individual customers and acupuncturists in California, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.

Symptoms of Clostridium botulinum typically begin with blurred or double vision followed by trouble speaking, swallowing; and progression to muscle weakness starting in the upper body, moving downward. Botulism can lead to life-threatening paralysis of breathing muscles requiring support with a breathing machine (ventilator) and intensive care.

People experiencing these symptoms who have recently consumed these Herbal Teas should seek immediate medical attention.

In its ongoing cooperation with the California Department of Public Health, U.S. Deer Antler Ex. & Imp., Inc. has immediately segregated its entire inventory of Herbal Tea varieties, and is notifying consumers and customers not to consume potentially-contaminated product. Furthermore, U.S. Deer Antler Ex. & Imp. Inc. is voluntarily recalling all varieties of general Herbal Teas prepared on-site in the period of 4/1/17 to 4/30/17 to ensure consumer safety.

Consumers in possession of these products are to stop consumption and return unconsumed product to their original place of purchase.

U.S. Deer Antler Ex. & Imp., Inc. will be sending recall notices to all of its direct customers. Please contact Joong W. Park (323) 735-9665 for further information.

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