Butte County Public Health Department announced Friday that it is investigating a case of wound botulism involving a Butte County resident who had injected drugs, including black tar heroin.
The department says a laboratory test is pending to confirm the diagnosis and the heroin’s source is unknown.
However, the department said in a press release that black tar heroin has been linked to other wound botulism cases and outbreaks involving injection drug users, so there is concern that black tar heroin available in Butte County may be contaminated.
The department has also issued a health advisory to field providers to promote rapid diagnosis and reporting and has provided information on homeless shelters, drug treatment facilities and other locations that serve individuals at risk of wound botulism.
According to the department, this will be the third case of wound botulism in the county this year. California has the highest rate of wound botulism in the country.
Wound botulism occurs when a wound becomes infected with either Clostridium botulinum (the cause of foodborne botulism) or the Clostridium bacterium, the BCPH said.
The department said the bacteria multiply in the wound and form a toxin that acts on the nerves and added that most, but not all, people with botulism who have a wound will have an apparently infected wound. People who inject black tar heroin into their muscles (“muscles”) or under their skin (“skin popping”) are at highest risk of wound botulism.
The department said that infected people cannot transmit the disease to others.
The department said symptoms appear within days or weeks after ingesting contaminated drugs and could be mistaken for a drug overdose. Symptoms may include weak or drooping eyelids, blurred or double vision, dry mouth, sore throat, slurred speech, trouble swallowing, difficulty breathing and a progressive isometric paralysis that begins in the face and head and body. goes under.
If left untreated, symptoms can progress to paralysis of the respiratory muscles, arms, legs, and trunk, followed by death. Early diagnosis and treatment is important to reduce the severity and duration of the disease. Any injection drug users with symptoms of wound botulism should seek medical help immediately to the nearest emergency room.