BANGKOK - Thailand has received emergency shipments of botulism antitoxin from Canada, England and the United States after an outbreak of the disease in which more than 100 villagers in Thailand's northern Nan province contacted botulism after they consumed contaminated bamboo shoots prepared in a traditional manner.
Thawat Suntrajarn, the head of Thailand's Disease Control Department, said that 168 villagers contracted botulism, which is a rare but often fatal neuromuscular disease. 143 patients were admitted to hospital, among whom 33 needed life support. Thawat said that the number of cases reported was the largest in Thailand and perhaps the world. The Ministry of Public Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) had asked for international aid agencies to procure the anti-toxin from various countries. Thailand is also trying to secure it from Japan. Thailand's early response was possible since a Ministry of Public Health team was in a nearby area conducting research on chronic liver cancer.