Four weeks ago, Lavinia Kelly stopped for a snack on her way home from work—she drizzled nacho cheese on some Doritos. Now she's in the hospital, bedridden and on a ventilator, using tape to hold her eyelids open.
Kelly, 33, has one of five confirmed cases of botulism picked up from Valley Oak Food and Fuel gas station in Sacramento, CA, according to the Sacramento Bee; there are three other probable cases and one suspected case—all nine patients are currently hospitalized.
The suspected culprit? That nacho cheese sauce. Botulism is a rare, but swift and serious illness, caused by multiplying Clostridium botulinumbacteria. Symptoms—vomiting, blurred vision, difficulty breathing, muscle weakness—typically take hold within 18 to 36 hours after eating contaminated food, as the bacteria release a nerve toxin that causes gradual paralysis and sometimes death.
Scary and rare? Yes. Unheard of? Not exactly. And we've only got ourselves to blame; botulism outbreaks are most often caused by human error, like using a half-assed approach to canning food.
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