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Botulism

Botulism is a rare and fatal illness caused by a toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. The disease begins with weakness, blurred vision, feeling tired, trouble speaking; this may be followed by weakness of the arms, chest muscles, legs. Vomiting, swelling of the abdomen, diarrhea may occur; the disease does not affect consciousness or cause a fever. Botulism can be spread in several ways; the bacterial spores which cause it are common in both water. They produce the botulinum toxin when exposed to certain temperatures. Foodborne botulism happens. Infant botulism happens when the bacteria releases the toxin; this only occurs in children fewer than six months old, as protective mechanisms develop after that time. Wound botulism is found most among those who inject street drugs. In this situation, spores enter a wound, in the absence of oxygen, release the toxin, it is not passed directly between people. The diagnosis is confirmed by finding the toxin or bacteria in the person in question.

Prevention is by proper food preparation. The toxin, though not the organism, is destroyed by heating it to more than 85 °C for longer than 5 minutes. Honey can contain the organism, for this reason, honey should not be fed to children under 12 months. Treatment is with an antitoxin. In those who lose their ability to breathe on their own, mechanical ventilation may be necessary for months. Antibiotics may be used for wound botulism. Death occurs in 5 to 10% of people. Botulism affects many other animals; the word is from Latin, meaning sausage. Early descriptions of botulism date from at least as far back as 1793 in Germany; the muscle weakness of botulism characteristically starts in the muscles supplied by the cranial nerves—a group of twelve nerves that control eye movements, the facial muscles and the muscles controlling chewing and swallowing. Double vision, drooping of both eyelids, loss of facial expression and swallowing problems may therefore occur. In addition to affecting the voluntary muscles, it can cause disruptions in the autonomic nervous system.

This is experienced as a dry mouth and throat, postural hypotension, constipation. Some of the toxins precipitate nausea and difficulty with talking; the weakness spreads to the arms and legs. Severe botulism leads to reduced movement of the muscles of respiration, hence problems with gas exchange; this may be experienced as dyspnea, but when severe can lead to respiratory failure, due to the buildup of unexhaled carbon dioxide and its resultant depressant effect on the brain. This may lead to respiratory death if untreated. Clinicians think of the symptoms of botulism in terms of a classic triad: bulbar palsy and descending paralysis, lack of fever, clear senses and mental status. Infant botulism was first recognized in 1976, is the most common form of botulism in the United States. Infants are susceptible to infant botulism in the first year of life, with more than 90% of cases occurring in infants younger than six months. Infant botulism results from the ingestion of the C. botulinum spores, subsequent colonization of the small intestine.

The infant gut may be colonized when the composition of the intestinal microflora is insufficient to competitively inhibit the growth of C. botulinum and levels of bile acids are lower than in life. The growth of the spores releases botulinum toxin, absorbed into the bloodstream and taken throughout the body, causing paralysis by blocking the release of acetylcholine at the neuromuscular junction. Typical symptoms of infant botulism include constipation, weakness, difficulty feeding and an altered cry progressing to a complete descending flaccid paralysis. Although constipation is the first symptom of infant botulism, it is overlooked. Honey has been linked to infant botulism. For this reason honey is not recommended for infants less than one year of age. Most cases of infant botulism, are thought to be caused by acquiring the spores from the natural environment. Clostridium botulinum is a ubiquitous soil-dwelling bacterium. Many infant botulism patients have been demonstrated to live near a construction site or an area of soil disturbance.

Infant botulism has been reported in 49 of 50 US states, cases have been recognized in 26 countries on five continents. Infant botulism has no long-term side effects, but can be complicated by hospital-acquired infections. Botulism can result in death due to respiratory failure. However, in the past 50 years, the proportion of patients with botulism who die has fallen from about 50% to 7% due to improved supportive care. A patient with severe botulism may require mechanical ventilation as well as intensive medical and nursing care, sometimes for several months; the person may require rehabilitation therapy after leaving the hospital. Clostridium botulinum is an anaerobic, Gram positive, spore-forming rod. Botulinum toxin is one of the most powerful known toxins: about one microgram is lethal to humans when inhaled, it acts by blocking nerve function (neurom

2008 Passover margarine shortage

During the 2008 Passover season, kosher-for-Passover margarine in the United States was short in supply due to several issues, leading to a scramble among kosher consumers to obtain the staple since it features prominently in many Passover recipes. There were several causes of the margarine shortage. One was the shortage of the main ingredient in the product. Cottonseed oil is used in lieu of corn or soybean oil, the traditional bases for margarine, which are not permitted to Ashkenazi Jews during Passover due to the laws of kitniyot. Cottonseed oil is a byproduct of cotton. Additionally, some of the previous manufacturers of Passover margarine discontinued producing the product after deciding it was not economically feasible; the process of cleansing a margarine plant to make it suitable for producing kosher-for-Passover margarine is complicated, involves dismantling much of the equipment. Some of the previous manufacturers felt it was no longer practical to undergo these procedures for a short-term project.

Manischewitz and Mother's, two of the largest kosher margarine brands, were only able to provide limited amounts to the marketplace, which were not in the popular stick form. The margarine shortage affected home Passover baking. Dishes which comply with Passover rules are somewhat lacking in taste, for this reason margarine is a key ingredient in many Passover recipes. No substitute is available. Since the laws of kashrut mandate the separation of milk and meat, margarine is an important butter substitute in recipes that are served with meat meals; some of the recipes that require large amounts of margarine include Passover desserts, such as cookies. Many stores rationed the sales of margarine to customers by limiting the number of cases of margarine that could be purchased, some stores required a minimum number of other items to be purchased. Haolam, a large manufacturer of kosher cheeses, was able to produce margarine for Passover to meet some of the demands. In addition to margarine, matzo was in short supply for the 2008 Passover season, as were the Tam Tam matzo crackers manufactured by Manischewitz.

Possible reasons for the matzo shortage included business decisions by the Trader Joe's and Costco chains not to stock matzo for 2008, manufacturing problems at Manischewitz that forced the company to withhold Tam Tams for the year, to produce less matzo and none of the more made shmurah matzo preferred by many traditional Jews

George Rymph House

The George Rymph House is a historic house located on Albany Post Road in Hyde Park, New York, United States. It is a stone house built during the 1760s by a recent German immigrant. In 1993 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is one of the few remaining pre-Revolutionary houses in Hyde Park, the oldest stone house, second-oldest house overall in the town. The Rymph family retained ownership of the house until selling it in the early 20th century to the Dominican Fathers who owned most of the surrounding property at the time. Several renovations, including a stucco exterior, have modified the original appearance, it served as a cottage for the camp's caretaker until the early 21st century, when the land conservation organization Scenic Hudson bought the property. The house has been vacant since then. Scenic Hudson has been trying to sell or lease the house to a party interested in restoring and preserving it; the house is located on the west side of the road 1.4 miles north of the Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site at the north end of downtown Hyde Park and 1 mile south of the hamlet of Staatsburg.

The surrounding terrain is rolling, just east of a 100-foot rise up from the Hudson River a quarter-mile to the west. It is extensively wooded, with a few clearings for a nearby yacht club to the south, the former summer camp on the property, the Anderson Center for Autism a thousand feet to the north. On the opposite side of the road is a large tract of unbroken woods extending to New York State Route 9G two miles to the east; the house's main block is a one-and-a-half-story three-bay structure of uncoursed fieldstone on an exposed stone foundation. It is topped with a cross-gabled roof sheathed in asphalt shingles and pierced by brick chimneys on either end. There are additions on the north and west sides, small porticos sheltering both entrances. On the east facade, the stone has been covered with stucco, scored to suggest a smooth-cut ashlar pattern, it has begun to flake and spall near the roof and foundation lines on the south of the main entrance. A short set of unpainted wooden steps leads up to a porch of the same material, with guardrails on the sides.

Two plain square pillars support the gabled portico roof, with clapboard in the gable field. To its sides, each bay has one double-hung six-over-six sash window with paneled wooden shutters. A wide plain frieze with simple cornice and bracketed eaves mark the roofline; the gable field above the main entrance is built of timber frame. It, too, is faced in clapboard. In its middle is an arched two-over-two double-hung sash window, its roofline has a similar treatment as the one below, except for having smaller brackets in pairs. On the south, the windows and facade treatment of the first story are identical to that of the east; the portico roof is supported by narrow metal poles, but is otherwise the same as its larger counterpart on the east. The gable field above it set in clapboard; the roofline treatment matches that on the east cross-gable. The stone on the west elevation is not stuccoed, only painted. A single narrow one-over-one separates the south corner from a shed-roofed addition with modern siding and paired storm windows in each face.

On the north is another, similar addition and with a smaller gabled roof. It has continuous screened windows, serving as a sunroom. There is no stucco on that side of the main block, either. A plain molded surround, topped by blocks with bulls-eye centers, sets off the main entrance door. Above it, on the lintel, is carved "GR 1769"; the door itself has four lights on its top and four wooden panels below. Inside, the house has many of its interior features intact, it has a central hall with wide planked wooden flooring. In the rooms are original mantels. Many of the original wooden four-paneled doors remain; the original ceiling hand-hewn exposed beams are still present, the staircase to the garret features an original wooden newel post and balustrade, among many other original wooden and plaster finishes in the house. From its establishment in the first years of the 18th century, Hyde Park, named for Edward Hyde, the provincial governor who granted the land, was undeveloped woods with a few tenant farmers.

John Bard, a New York City physician, bought 3,600 acres between Crum Elbow Creek and the Enderkill in 1763 as a retirement property. Financial problems five years forced him to offer the property for sale, he never did sell some of it. Johannes George Rymph, a filemaker who had come to the Hudson Valley from Wittenburg, Germany, a few years earlier, bought a 215-acre land lot stretching west from the river; the following year he built the house, carving his initials and the year 1769 in the lintel above the main entrance. At that time it looked somewhat different, it was limited to the current main block, did not have its porticoes, either. The fieldstone walls and foundation were unpainted on all sides; the size and form of the house, as well as features of the roof like the steeply pitched gables, framed ends, chimney placement are typical of the vernacular architecture built by most European settlers of the time. The house's center-hall, double-pile interior plan, topped by a garret, is more common on the west side of the Hudson, however.

Rymph expanded the farmstead to 600 acres. On his death in 1791, the house and land were left to ten children, they remained on the land subdividing it over the 19th cent