Several inmates may be suffering from botulism poisoning

CREATED Nov. 26, 2012

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FLORENCE, Ariz. (KGUN 9-TV) - Seven inmates of the Arizona State Prison Complex Eyman in Florence are suspected to have botulism poisoning, a toxin that often comes from home-canned food and fruits, according to a Pinal County press release. 
 
Four inmates became seriously ill on Saturday and were hospitalized. A fifth man also became ill later that day and two more inmates showed similar symptoms on Sunday morning. All seven are in intensive care.
 
Proactive treatment to confirm botulism can begin after consulting with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Once the CDC has confirmed that botulism is the illness of the inmates, they will release an anti-toxin to the state to further the treatment process.
 
It is suspected that the poisoning came from a contraband home-made alcohol made from fermented fruits, also known as a "hooch". It is not yet confirmed that this is the source of the botulism but samples of the home-made alcohol were sent to the CDC for lab testing.
 
Pinal County Public Health Officials are working on an investigation with the Department of Corrections and Arizona Department of Health Services to isolate and eliminate the source of botulism, determining if other inmates are affected and closely monitoring the health of inmates in the same pod, according to Heather Murphy, Pinal County Director of Communications.
 
Botulism cannot be spread from person-to-person through coughing, sneezing or other similar means. The toxin is mostly found in food and drink or through a contaminated wound or IV drug use.
 
Early symptoms include muscle weakness and difficulty speaking, chewing and swallowing.  Untreated, botulism toxicity can lead to generalized weakness, difficulty breathing and paralysis.