Ohio Church Potluck Linked to Botulism Outbreak with One Confirmed Death

At least 18 suspected cases of botulism, including one death, are in the process of confirmation through lab testing

The incident is an isolated event and is not expected to affect the community at large. 

A potluck hosted at Cross Pointe Free Will Baptist Church in Lancaster, Ohio, on Sunday, April 19 is believed to be the source of a botulism outbreak that has killed one person and affected at least 18 others who are currently seeking medical treatment, Ohio’s Fairfield Medical Center announced. Between 50 and 60 people attended the potluck.

Botulism, a rare paralytic disease caused by a nerve toxin, is not contagious. It is acquired by eating food that contains the toxin, infecting a wound with the toxin’s bacteria, ingesting the bacteria spores, or overdosing on the botulism toxin for use in medical or cosmetic purposes, like Botox.

Symptoms typically begin within 18 to 36 hours after contamination, and can include double or blurred vision, drooping eyelids, difficulty swallowing, and shortness of breath.

“After symptoms were identified, arrangements were made immediately with the Centers for Disease Control to obtain an anti-toxin to help with treatment; this arrived overnight at Fairfield Medical Center,” FMC said in a statement.


“In addition, FMC’s incident command center was immediately activated and remains operational. We continue to partner with the Fairfield Department of Health, the Ohio Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and the Central Ohio Trauma System. The Ohio Department of Health is conducting an ongoing investigation.”