The contaminated sardines were marinated in olive oil and aromatic herbs at the company on September 1, and served to customers until the 10th, however, several reports have surfaced that the food in question had a foul smell and a strong taste. In Barcelona, Emilio Salgado, from the toxicology service of the emergency department of a hospital clinic that treated one of the victims, said in a scientific article cited by a Spanish newspaper that he believes this fact “caused many”. Customers eat only a small amount of food or refuse to try it, which certainly avoids a major tragedy.
Botulism is a rare but serious and fatal disease caused by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum. This bacterium produces spores that release toxic substances (the most dangerous known to medicine according to the World Health Organization) into the nervous system, causing muscle paralysis, leading to respiratory failure and ultimately death.
Symptoms of botulism begin to appear within 12 to 36 hours of consuming contaminated food, and the first hour of medical attention is necessary in the evolution of the patient’s condition. Mortality rates from the disease reported in the scientific literature vary from 3% to 10%.
The authors of the study, published in Eurosurveillance, highlight the importance of using new technologies in the context of a public health crisis, but they highlight ethical issues and question the limits that data protection laws impose in these cases.
“Given the seriousness of botulism, credit card companies fully cooperated with health officials and spoke with identified customers to obtain their consent before providing contact details,” the article states. The operation’s performance “allowed three British citizens, who were unaware of their condition, to be contacted and rushed to a health unit for rapid administration of the vaccine”, it also read.
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