Suspected Botulism from Unauthorized Vendor Survey Requested by State of Alaska

photo by Greg Lincoln

by Cama-i Committee Staff

An unauthorized vendor at the 2018 Cama-i Dance Festival distributed foods traditionally referred to as “Eskimo Salad.” Sharing foods is a traditional practice that is supported by the Cama-i dance festival. We support sharing of native foods at our Saturday night Potlach where we take an active role in supporting food safety.

The sale of native foods by vendors is not authorized by our event.

The State of Alaska Section of Epidemiology was contacted concerning a suspected case of botulism that led to their investigation of the Native salad. The Cama-i organizers have been working closely with the Section of Epidemiology as well as following the statement prepared by the Yukon- Kuskokwim Health Corporation (YKHC):

“On March 21, 2018, the Alaska Section of Epidemiology received a report of a suspected case of foodborne botulism in an adult from Bethel. A possible source of the botulism toxin for this patient is the Native Salad that was available for purchase at the Cama-i Dance Festival in Bethel, March 16-18, 2018.

Botulism can be a life-threatening illness that could cause a person to stop breathing and die if they do not receive immediate medical care.

Symptoms of botulism include a dry mouth, blurred or double vision, difficulty swallowing, drooping eyelids, dilated pupils, voice changes, dizziness, and/or shortness of breath, which typically start 1-3 days after consuming the toxin-containing food.

While the diagnosis of botulism in this patient is not certain, out of an abundance of caution, we are advising people who consumed the Native Salad sold at the Cama-i Festival in Bethel to be watchful for the signs and symptoms of botulism.

People with symptoms in Bethel should visit the emergency room; people with symptoms outside of Bethel should call their clinic.

Throw away any leftover Native Salad you may have purchased at the Cama-i Dance Festival last weekend.—YKHC Staff”

In addition, the State of Alaska Section of Epidemiology would like to learn more about how festival attendees consumed and stored food products from the festival and if any other attendees became ill.

If anyone in your household attended the festival please fill out this confidential 5 minute survey. Use the link below to access the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/cdfestival , or got to www.camai.org for access to the survey.

We are requesting that everyone that attended the gathering please complete the survey. The survey will close to responses on April 14, 2018. Quyana!

The Cama-i Dance Festival is an annual celebration of Dance. Each spring thousands of people from the Yukon-Kuskokwim region of Alaska gather to watch, dance, and enjoy groups and acts from around the region and the world. The celebration is also a showcase of the traditional Yup’ik stories, dances, arts and crafts, and elders. Join us in the Spring or online at www.camai.org.

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