Wow! This must be what it’s like to live in a third world country.
One of the hidden costs of diversity is that things that in the past we could take for granted, we can’t anymore.
Details on the nacho cheese sauce that has poisoned people in California are sketchy, but here locally the sauces are canned. When I see any kind of canned product where the ends of the can are bulging, I throw out that can. It’s easy to picture an illegal immigrant in the food chain here ignoring what most indigenous American people know is dangerous.
A mother of three who turns 33 today is among victims who are hospitalized with botulism poisoning after eating at Valley Oak Food & Fuel, a gas station in Sacramento County, CA.
Lavinia Kelly remains partially paralyzed and on a ventilator as her family and friends wonder whether this will be her last birthday. She had no way of knowing when she stopped for a snack of chips and cheese sauce on the way home from work on April 21 that she would be admitted to an intensive care unit less than 48 hours later.
“She has remained in intensive care ever since, unable to move much, speak, breathe on her own, or open her eyes. Family members must pull her eyelids up to enable her to see at all,” according to a civil lawsuit filed in the Superior Court of California in Sacramento County.
“Lavinia Kelly experiences significant pain all over her body constantly. She is receiving methadone and Neurontin for pain control. (Her) medical condition is poor, and her prognosis uncertain.”
The lawsuit does not specify damages. It names the gas station in Walnut Grove, CA, and “John Doe” individuals and corporations because it is not yet clear how the cheese sauce at Valley Oak Food & Fuel became contaminated with Clostridium botulinum bacteria.
A total of nine people are hospitalized in the foodborne illness outbreak, according to public health officials in California. Five of the victims have been confirmed with botulism poisoning. All five ate food from the gas station before becoming ill.
Sacramento County pubic health officials are investigating another three “probable” cases and one “suspect” case.
County officials ordered the gas station to stop selling “prepared food” on May 5. On May 10 county officials renewed their public warning to those who recently ate food from the Valley Oak Food & Fuel station.
CBS News picks up the story from the human interest angle.
As the number of those who become sick continues to grow, so too does the concern for those who live in this small town.
“It’s tough on a small town,” said one local woman, who did not want to give her name. “It’s tough because we know some of the youth who were affected by it, so our hearts are heavy.”
“From the preliminary testing of the cheese, it was positive for botulism,” said Dr. Oliva Kasirye, a health inspector with the Sacramento County Public Health Department, who has been part of the on-going investigation.
Now that the source of the outbreak has been determined, the investigation will turn to the cause and seek to answer if the gas station mishandled the food items or if the manufacturers or distributors are at fault.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, botulism is caused by a toxin produced by bacteria. Symptoms include blurry vision, slurred speech, muscle weakness and difficulty swallowing.
“But 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,” explained Dr. Kasirye.
And even with the anti-toxin treatment, there is no guarantee patients will fully recover.