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U.S. expert investigating food poisoning caused by strain used in biological weapons
The Associated Press (apwire)     Print Article 
Published 2006-03-21 11:40 (KST)   
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _ An American expert is investigating an outbreak of food poisoning in Thailand after a finding that the bacteria that caused it is the same strain used to produce biological weapons, officials said Tuesday.

Last week, 143 people suffered stomach pains, vomiting and muscle weakness after eating fermented bamboo shoots at a temple fair in the northern Thai province of Nan, and 39 remain in critical condition, said Prajaya Boonyawongwiroje of the Public Health Ministry.

An expert from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention is in Nan to investigate the outbreak and has brought 50 doses of anti-toxin serum, said Prajaya, the ministry's acting permanent secretary said. Britain and Canada also have sent serum.

The serum is used to cure botulism, a form of food poisoning caused by the clostridium botulinum bacteria, one of several used in biological weapons. Severe cases of botulism can be fatal.

Thai officials have given no indication that the food poisoning originated from anything else but contaminated food. Cases of botulism are reported in Thailand and across the world each year.

Thai officials say U.S. health experts are eager to study such outbreaks of botulism to strengthen preparedness for biological weapons attacks in the United States.

©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter The Associated Press

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