US researchers withhold data in botulism study

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Associated Press

Posted on December 19, 2013 at 4:34 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 19 at 4:35 PM

SACRAMENTO, California (AP) — Americana health researchers have discovered the first new strain of botulism in four decades, but decided to withhold publishing the genetic code because of bioterrorism concerns.

The California state Department of Public Health said an infant fell ill with botulism earlier this year, but survived. Researchers published the case in October's issue of the Journal of Infectious Diseases, but did not include the genetic sequence of the toxin.

Lead researcher Stephen Arnon told the Sacramento Bee the decision was made after consulting with the U.S. government.

There's no treatment yet for the new botulism strain and there are fears that the genetic code might fall into the wrong hands.

Some scientists say it's better to publish the data so that others can evaluate the work.

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