Tourist hospitalised with botulism after eating tainted sardines at Bordeaux wine bar

Tourist hospitalised with botulism after eating tainted sardines at Bordeaux wine bar

A woman from Toronto was hospitalised on a trip to France after eating at a Bordeaux wine bar.

Jubilee Pridham, 33, fell ill after dining at a wine bar in Bordeaux’s tourism district, and is reportedly recovering from botulism caused by sardines she ate there, per CTV News Toronto.

A GoFundMe account that has been set up to help with Pridham’s expenses says she ate the sardines on the first day of her trip; from France, Pridham was supposed to travel to Spain before returning to Canada, the Toronto Star reported.

“Jubilee was infected with a rare botulism toxin during her first meal of house-made preserved sardines at a popular restaurant,” the page says. “She woke up to double vision, difficulty breathing and swallowing the next morning.”

Her health quickly deteriorated and she eventually lost the ability to speak, see, or move and was taken to a hospital. “Her respiratory distress was so severe that she was placed on a ventilator as she could no longer breathe independently. She was admitted to the ICU with only the faint movement of her fingers and toes due to severe paralysis,” the GoFundMe says.

The sardines reportedly made several people ill, including a woman Pridham was travelling with named Gabby Chartier, though her case wasn’t as severe as Pridham’s. A 32-year-old woman in France reportedly died from illness caused by the sardines, per CTV News Toronto.

French health authorities have put out an alert warning anyone who dined at Tchin Tchin wine bar between Monday 4 and Sunday September 10, 2023, should consult a doctor urgently.

Botulism is often the result of bacteria found in food; they thrive in home-canned food, especially, per the Mayo Clinic. Oftentimes, botulism results from homemade food that hasn’t been stored properly. It can also occur when a wound is exposed to bacteria.

Foodborne botulism causes symptoms like dry mouth, difficulty speaking or swallowing, weakness on both sides of one’s face, double vision, blurred vision, trouble breathing, drooping eyelids, vomiting, nausea, stomach cramps, and paralysis; wound botulism causes some — but not all — of those symptoms.

While the symptoms of wound botulism may not show up for 10 days after a wound has been exposed to bacteria, the warning signs of foodborne botulism usually begin within 12 to 36 hours after eating the food.

It’s important to seek medical care if you think you have botulism, since it can be life-threatening. The condition affects one’s ability to control their muscles, so it can cause complications that take a long time to heal, including shortness of breath and lasting weakness.

Usually, if a doctor suspects botulism, they’ll ask what kinds of foods you’ve recently eaten. To confirm the diagnosis, they may check for paralysis or muscle weakness or drooping eyelids. They may also request a sample of one’s blood, vomit, or stool to check for the toxin that causes the illness.

When Ms Pridham fell ill, her family left Canada to go be with her, according to the GoFundMe. “This severe health crisis has thrust her into a fight to regain her life,” the GoFundMe says. “Her health insurance has covered the cost of her hospital stay thus far; it does not, however, extend to the unknowable cost and timeline of her recovery and rehabilitation.”

Ms Pridham, a general manager at a restaurant in Toronto, won’t be able to report to work for the foreseeable future, the GoFundMe states. “In addition to her recovery costs, she also has everyday financial responsibilities,” the page says. “At this time, we are uncertain as to the financial burden this will have on her and her family.”

Her partner, Lowell Sostomi, told CTV News Toronto that her recovery won’t be quick. “We’re seeing improvements, but it’s small steps everyday.”

Part of the money raised through her GoFundMe will be used to help Ms Pridham’s partner and family travel so they can continue to be with her until she’s well enough to return home. They’ll also help cover the cost of wages lost during this time.

“Jubilee’s life has been an example of kindness and generosity,” the page says. “She is the person who consistently looks out for everyone in her circle and the community beyond… She feeds you, listens to you, checks in with you and treats you with empathy, intention and care… In light of the immense impact she’s had on the lives of those around her, we would greatly appreciate any assistance from those who can contribute to her care and recovery.”