UPDATE: 3:14 p.m. — A man has died in the apparent outbreak of botulism that stemmed from nacho cheese dip sold at a gas station in California, according to authorities quoted by The Associated Press. The man has not been identified. In total, 10 people have been sicked by the dip, health officials said.
Nine people have been hospitalized after eating nacho cheese from a Sacramento gas station, California officials said.
Officials first connected five botulism illness cases to Valley Oak Food and Fuel gas station in the Walnut Grove suburb on May 5. By Friday, that number had increased to nine with a tenth person being tested.
Sacramento County Public Health officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye told CBS that the ongoing investigation is pointing its finger at the nacho cheese.
“From the preliminary testing of the cheese, it was positive for botulism,” she said.
Botulism, a rare food poisoning, can lead to paralysis, breathing difficulty and sometimes death. The toxin produced by the bacteria affects the nervous system, causing symptoms such as blurred vision and slurred speech.
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, only about two cases are reported north of the border every year.
One of the people sickened last month has filed a lawsuit against the gas station for negligence, reports The Sacramento Bee.
Lavinia Kelly has been in the hospital for three weeks and is unable to speak. Kelly also can’t keep her eyelids open, her partner, Ricky Torres said.
Kelly’s older sister Theresa Kelly said she was shaken to see her sister in this state.
“I’ve never seen my sister not have function of her body or be able to communicate,” she said. “Thank God that we know she can recover. We just don’t know how long or how much effort.”
Kasirye said the recovery can be a long process.
“If there are any muscles that have been paralyzed from the toxin, it’s not reversed by the anti-toxin. That’s a process that could take time and that’s why the recovery is very slow,” she said.
Officials have stripped the gas station of its permit to sell food and drinks. Employees have not responded to requests for comment.
— With files from the Associated PressFollow @jennynotjen
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