Tennessee Investigates Botulism-Like Illness from Cosmetic Injections

The Tennessee Department of Health is investigating cases of botulism-like illness linked to cosmetic injections.

The Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and other states to investigate cases of botulism-like illness following cosmetic injections of botulinum toxin. Investigations suggest that counterfeit products or products with unclear origins were administered in non-medical settings such as homes or cosmetic spas.

TDH identified four patients experiencing botulism-like symptoms after receiving botulinum toxin injections for cosmetic purposes. All four patients were seen by healthcare providers, and two were hospitalized. Similar cases have been reported in multiple states, with ongoing investigations suggesting that counterfeit products were used.

Botulism is a rare and potentially fatal illness caused by a nerve toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum or related species. Symptoms may include double or blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, and difficulty breathing, followed by descending, symmetric muscle weakness that progresses over hours to days, requiring hospitalization and specialized treatment with anti-toxin.

TDH recommends that cosmetic injections should only involve FDA-approved products administered by licensed providers in licensed settings. Tennessee health profession licensure information is publicly available at: https://www.tn.gov/health/health-program-areas/health-professional-boards.html.

Healthcare providers should ask about recent cosmetic procedures in patients experiencing botulism-like illness and report suspected cases immediately to TDH at 615-741-7247.

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