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A case of food-borne botulism occurred in Slovakia in 2015. type A was isolated from three nearly empty commercial hummus tubes. The product, which was sold in Slovakia and the Czech Republic, was withdrawn from the market and a warning was issued immediately through the European Commission’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF). Further investigation revealed the presence of botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT) subtype BoNT/A3, a very rare subtype implicated in only one previous outbreak (Loch Maree in Scotland, 1922). It is the most divergent subtype of BoNT/A with 15.4% difference at the amino acid level compared with the prototype BoNT/A1. This makes it more prone to evading immunological and PCR-based detection. It is recommended that testing laboratories are advised that this subtype has been associated with food-borne botulism for the second time since the first outbreak almost 100 years ago, and to validate their immunological or PCR-based methods against this divergent subtype.


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