Two rare cases of botulism have been reported in as many months at Orange County Global Medical Center in Santa Ana, county health officials confirmed Thursday, July 14.
A hospital representative said a patient with botulism was brought to the emergency room about two months ago and another came to the emergency room two days ago. Both were admitted, isolated and treated.
Botulism is so rare in the United States that an average of only 110 cases are reported each year. About a quarter are foodborne, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
California, Washington, Colorado, Oregon and Alaska account for more than half of all foodborne outbreaks reported since 1950, the CDC said.
Botulism is caused by C. botulinum spores ingested or introduced into wounds. There is no person-to-person transmission, according to the CDC.
Since 1980, wound botulism has primarily affected people who use illicit drugs through the use of needles, the CDC explains. Virtually all injury cases occur in the western United States, primarily in California, due to increased use of black tar heroin, the federal agency said.
Contacted Thursday morning, a hospital spokesperson said officials had not heard anything about botulism cases at the facility. But the Orange County Health Agency confirmed the cases Thursday afternoon. County officials would not release any further information, citing patient confidentiality.
A representative from Global Medical Center contacted the Orange County Registry later in the day with more information, but was also constrained by privacy laws.
State health officials referred all questions to local agencies.