COLUMBIA, Md. (WJZ) — An illness called botulism has been recently identified in Howard County.

Botulism is a serious illness caused by a toxin that attacks the body’s nerves. It can be caused by eating contaminated food or beverages.

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It’s often associated with improperly home-canned, preserved or fermented foods.

It is not contagious.

A Howard County health department investigation found the possible source as acupuncture and herbal practice in Ellicott City.

Any food, teas or other products that can be put in or on the body that were bought from the practice in the 3300 block of St. Johns Lane should be discarded immediately, the health department recommended.

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They said any products can be put in the trash, or if it is liquid, dumped down the sink.

The symptoms of Botulism include nausea and vomiting, muscle weakness of the eyes, face, mouth and throat. That weakness can spread to the neck, arms, legs and torso which can lead to difficulty breathing and even death.

Other symptoms listed by the Center for Disease Control include:

The symptoms of botulism may include:

  • double vision
  • blurred vision
  • drooping eyelids
  • slurred speech
  • difficulty swallowing
  • difficulty breathing
  • a thick-feeling tongue
  • dry mouth
  • muscle weakness

The health department said it is essential to seek emergency medical attention immediately for anyone displaying these symptoms.

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For more information about botulism, visit https://www.cdc.gov/botulism/.  If you have further questions, contact Howard County Health Department at 410 313-1412.