Bacteria-Triggered Botulism Outbreak Suspected at Mississippi Federal Prison

Officials reported that a recent outbreak of botulism affecting 20 inmates at a prison in Mississippi was possibly linked to drinking moonshine.

Officials reported that a recent outbreak of botulism affecting 20 inmates at a prison in Mississippi was possibly linked to drinking moonshine.

According to the CDC, botulism is a potentially fatal illness triggered by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, commonly found in soil and water.

More than a dozen convicts from the Yazoo City Correctional Institution remain hospitalized, and all inmates were treated with an anti-toxin.

While toxicology reports are still pending, investigators believe the inmates began falling ill from drinking homemade alcohol.

Officials are also investigating the contents of this specific drink. But, often referred to as “hooch” or “pruno,” the contraband brew is typically made from fruit and vegetable scraps, sugar, and water.

The disease onset usually occurs between six hours to 10 days following drink consumption. Symptoms include blurred vision, muscle weakness, fatigue, difficulty swallowing, and slurred speech.

Additionally, serious cases of botulism can lead to death from respiratory failure.

The only inmates at risk are those who rank the beverage. Although botulism can’t be spread from person to person, officials have suspended family visitation to the medium-security prison until further notice.

The rare, but serious paralytic disease causes about 145 cases of human illness in the US annually. A quarter of the incidents result from food, and only 3-5% of patients die, the CDC reported.