Level and determinant of botulism awareness as a measure of disease protection from home canned and preserved foods - Karasuiskei District, Osh Province, Kyrgyzstan

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In 2018, 30 small outbreaks of botulism, involving 61 individuals with two fatalities, occurred in Osh Province in Kyrgyzstan. Home-canned fruits and vegetables were the source of disease in those incidences. During March-April, 2019, we conducted a population-based household survey in Karasuiskei, a typical and representative district of Osh province in Kyrgyzstan. The objectives were to estimate the level of botulism awareness and its determinants with regard to home-canned and preserved food to suggest recommendations that can help reduce disease incidence.

We randomly selected and interviewed 470 housewives. We defined botulism awareness based on individuals’ responses related to questions on food home-canning and preservation practices, ability to recognize food spoilage, understanding the risk of botulism from improperly preserved or canned food. We also collected information on the demographics and other relevant individuals’ characteristics. We used logistic regression to assess the disease risk factor associations.

All housewives prepare home-canned and preserved food. Only 20% (96/470) are well aware of botulism and its sources and they follow proper food preservation and canning practices. The highest rate of awareness was 39% (73/187) among those who had good access to information from mass media sources, or heard about the disease from friends 39% (58/148). Low rate, 10% (15/144), was observed among those aged <30 years. In multivariate analysis, factors associated with good botulism awareness were: access to information from mass media (OR=5.1; 95% CI 2.9-8.8), gained disease knowledge from friends (OR=3.1; 95% CI 1.8-5.4), and are more than 30 years of age (OR=2.1; 95% CI 1.1-4.1).

This study provides evidence of low botulism awareness with respect to home-canning and preservation of food. To meet the need of improving disease awareness, we recommend the provision of well-designed and properly channeled educational messages that can reach the majority of the general public through appropriate mass media.

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