New Mexico Department of Health investigates two suspected wound botulism cases

SANTA FE, N.M. – The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) asked clinicians and the public to report signs and/or symptoms of wound botulism, a rare but serious paralytic illness.

The NMDOH investigated two more suspected cases. One case involved a 26-year-old Rio Arriba County woman, and the other was a 40-year-old man from Bernalillo County. They are the third and fourth case in 2021 so far.

The departments said wound botulism is caused by a nerve toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum being present in wounds or abscess.

Cases in New Mexico have been linked primarily to injecting black tar heroin and methamphetamines, said NMDOH.

Symptoms include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Double vision
  • Dropping eyelids
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Dry mouth
  • Muscle weakness/descending paralysis
  • Difficulty breathing/shortness of breath

If untreated, these symptoms may progress to cause paralysis of the respiratory muscles, arms, legs, and torso with subsequent death.

The NMDOH recommends that all clinicians be alert for cases of wound botulism, especially in injection drug users, to report any suspect case to the Department of Health at 505-827-0006 so that antitoxin can be obtained as soon as possible if needed.

Click here for more information about botulism.