Wyoming Botulism Death Appears To Be Isolated, Source Remains Elusive

So far, there appear to be no other cases of botulism connected to the one that killed a Jackson man last week, the Wyoming Department of Health said.

Mark Heinz

December 05, 20222 min read

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A Jackson man’s death from botulism appears to be an isolated incident, although the exact source of the contamination that sickened him hasn’t been determined, says a spokeswoman for the Wyoming Department of Health. 

Hans Russell, 56, died Wednesday after battling botulism for more than 60 days, a family friend told Cowboy State Daily.

It’s suspected that Russell contracted the devastating disease in September by eating tainted soup during a river trip in Idaho. 

However, an investigation by the Wyoming Department of Health hasn’t been able to determine exactly how Russell became infected, agency spokeswoman Kim Deti told Cowboy State Daily. 

Probably The Only Case

There don’t seem to be any other cases connected to the infection that killed Russell, Deti said. 

The last reported case of botulism in Wyoming was in 2018, she said. 

Botulism is caused by a toxin that comes from an anerobic bacteria that can contaminate food. The toxin attacks the nervous system and can cause an array of symptoms, including paralysis.

It was reported that during a nearly two-month stay to the University of Utah medical center, Russell was completely immobilized and unable to breathe or speak. 

Fondly Remembered 

Before falling ill, Russell was an avid outdoorsman with a sharp sense of humor and artistic talent, James Peck of Jackson told Cowboy State Daily. Peck was Russell’s boss at Lewis & Clark River Expeditions, where Russell worked as a bus driver. 

An old river guiding friend worked as nurse at the hospital, and was at Russell’s side throughout his ordeal, Peck said. Russell died surrounded by family members and few particularly close friends, he added. 

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter