Botulism in homemade alcohol, also known as prison hooch, has sickened 17 inmates at the Yazoo City Medium Security Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) and one case at the Federal Transfer Center (FTC) in Oklahoma City, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The inmate at FTC Oklahoma drank the poisonous mixture before transferring to the Oklahoma City facility.
Health officials believe inmates mixed vegetable and fruit scraps with sugar and water in an attempt to make alcohol. Fifteen inmates remain hospitalized, two have returned to the Yazoo facility.
Botulism is caused by a nerve toxin produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum which is found in soil and dust. Because it causes paralysis which eventually affects the muscles used to breathe, it can be fatal if untreated. Symptoms include: double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, muscle weakness, descending paralysis, difficulty breathing and shortness of breath.
The incubation period for botulism ranges from hours to 10 days. Health officials are monitoring others who may have been affected.