Letter from City Manager, Tony M. Coroalles

Statement from Calabasas pediatrician Dr. Tanya Altman

Calabasas e.NEWS Advisory





April 20, 2017

To Concerned Calabasas Residents –

I understand that many of you are worried about public safety following recent news stories about a reported case of infant botulism in Calabasas. I want to assure you that the City would never knowingly place at risk the health of any resident or person if we had advice from health care professionals that an unsafe situation existed. The City has heard that there are still questions following the information that was distributed yesterday and I have prepared the following fact sheet to hopefully help alleviate some of those concerns:


  • In November 2016, a Calabasas resident’s child was diagnosed with infant botulism and the incident was reported to the State of California by the treating clinicians.

  • The report was subsequently forwarded by the State to the L. A. County Department of Public Health who has jurisdiction for health issues in Calabasas.

  • The City of Calabasas was not notified by the L.A. County Department of Health when it received the report, as one reported instance of infant botulism in a geographic area is not cause for concern. TO DATE, THE LOS ANGELES COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH KNOWS OF ONLY THIS ONE CONFIRMED CASE IN THE CALABASAS AREA.

  • On April 13, 2017, six months after the incident, the City received two claims from the same attorney alleging that in October and November of 2016 two infants contracted botulism as a result of the ongoing work on the Lost Hills overpass. Only one of the infants had been taken to a doctor and officially diagnosed. According to doctors at the LA County Department of Public Health, 99.9% of infantile botulism cases require hospitalization. The City is forwarding the claims to the insurance company of the General Contractor for the Lost Hills Interchange Improvement Project. One of the individuals who filed a claim had filed an earlier lawsuit against the City.

  •  On April 19th, the City contacted the L.A. County Department of Health to inquire if indeed a case of infant botulism had occurred in the City. Initially, County Health reported that they were unaware of any cases but said they would research it further and get back to the City. Later in the day, they conveyed to us they had found a single report that had occurred in November 2016.

  •  That same day, after consultations with Dr. Benjamin Schwartz, the Deputy Director of Communicable Disease for the L.A. County Department of Health, the City issued the following release:

Information on Recent Botulism Concerns

On April 13, 2017, the city of Calabasas received two claims alleging that six months ago two children contracted infant botulism as a consequence of soil being disturbed by the nearby construction project at the 101/Lost Hills Interchange. The city of Calabasas contacted the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health who confirmed that on November 1, 2016 there was a single case of infant botulism reported from the Calabasas area.

Dr. Benjamin Schwartz, Deputy Director of Communicable Disease for the LA County Department of Public Health, stated that, "Bacteria and the spores that cause botulism are ubiquitous in the environment and, therefore, it is not possible to link a botulism case to a specific geographic location. Because distribution of the organism is so widespread in the environment the risk of illness is more related to individual susceptibility than to environmental exposure."

He also explained that, "If parents are concerned that their infant might be infected, they should immediately contact their health care provider. Infant botulism is extremely rare and is a very severe disease with almost all infants who become infected requiring hospitalization. Healthcare providers should immediately report suspect cases to the Department of Public Health."

"We understand parents and the community's concerns about this issue and are taking steps to get immediate answers," said Calabasas Mayor Mary Sue Maurer. "The city's number one priority has always been the safety of its residents, especially children."

For media inquiries related to botulism, contact the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. The newsroom website is

Infant botulism is managed by the California Department of Public Health. For information on infant botulism visit:

City of Calabasas
100 Civic Center Way
Calabasas, CA 91302

The Department of Public Health believes that there is no more increased risk of contracting infant botulism in any one part of the City of Calabasas than in any other place in Southern California. The fact that the infant that contracted infant botulism lived in one part of the City does not mean that it was contracted there, or that anyone else in that area is at greater risk.

Based on the above advice, the City will continue with normal operations at all of our facilities. The City’s top priority continues to be the health and safety of our residents.

Anthony M. Coroalles
City Manager


Statement from Dr Tanya Altmann, Calabasas Pediatrician

As a parent and pediatrician in Calabasas, I wanted to address the recent concern about the one case of infant botulism in our community.

Botulism is a very rare, but serious illness caused by a toxin produced by the bacteria Clostridium Botulinum. Infants under 12 months of age are most at risk for botulism and older kids and adults are usually not affected. Symptoms in babies usually present as symmetric muscle weakness and floppiness, poor feeding, constipation and trouble breathing without fever or cold symptoms. Treatment should be provided in a hospital and incudes an antitoxin as well as supportive care such as help with feeding and breathing until the baby recovers.

The most common cause of botulism is in infants who have ingested raw honey that is contaminated with botulism spores. Less commonly botulism spores can be found in other food products such as canned foods. For this reason, it recommended that infants under 1 year of age do not consume raw honey.

Botulism is also in nature and found in soil all around the world. That said, infectious disease experts say it is extremely rare that anyone would catch botulism from spores in the soil or dirt and if so, it would be difficult to pinpoint the source unless there were many cases within the same area. Because botulism is a reportable disease, every case must be reported to the health department and investigated.

For these reasons, based on the information available, I do not have any concerns about our community and letting kids practice or play at local parks.

If you have any concerns or questions, please contact your pediatrician.


Tanya Altmann, MD, FAAP
Calabasas Pediatrics


City of Calabasas © 2018