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Wound infections due to Clostridium botulinum were not recognised in the UK and Republic of Ireland before 2000. C. botulinum produces a potent neurotoxin which can cause paralysis and death. In 2000 and 2001, ten cases were clinically recognised, with a further 23 in 2002, 15 in 2003 and 40 cases in 2004. All cases occurred in heroin injectors. Seventy cases occurred in England; the remainder occurred in Scotland (12 cases), Wales (2 cases) and the Republic of Ireland (4 cases). Overall, 40 (45%) of the 88 cases were laboratory confirmed by the detection of botulinum neurotoxin in serum, or by the isolation of C. botulinum from wounds. Of the 40 cases in 2004, 36 occurred in England, and of the 12 that were laboratory confirmed, 10 were due to type A. There was some geographical clustering of the cases during 2004, with most cases occurring in London and in the Yorkshire and Humberside region of northeast England.


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