Lavinia Kelly, 33, was left unable to breathe or speak after falling ill from eating nacho cheese sauce that she added to her Doritos when picking up petrol three weeks ago.
Health officials in Sacramento County, California have confirmed that five people contracted botulism from food eaten at the Valley Oak Food and Fuel service station - the prime suspect is their nacho cheese sauce.
The Sacramento Bee reports that within hours of eating her snack, the Kelly fell ill and complained of double vision. By the evening she was vomiting and struggling to breathe, so her partner, Ricky Torres, rushed her to the emergency room.
Botulism is severe infection caused by the botulinum bacteria. The bacteria releases a nerve toxin which causes vomiting, blurred vision, and muscle weakness. If untreated, it will cause slow paralysis and even death.
The day after being admitted to hospital Kelly was so ill she had lost control of her own eyelids and needed friends to hold them open to see visitors.
Torres says she is recovering well and now they’re searching for answers: ‘She’s been doing good, and we just don’t understand why this happened over a bag of chips and nacho cheese. Really? How does that happen?”
The family have filed a lawsuit against the service station for negligence, with attorney Bruce Clark arguing that ‘only human mistakes create the environment for botulinum toxin to form.’
- Botulism is caused by a toxin released by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum.
- Symptoms of botulism start with weakness, vision problems and fatigue. As it progresses there may be difficulty moving and breathing.
- Botulism is most commonly the result of poor food hygiene practices, which allow the bacteria to thrive. It is prevented by proper food safety, and treated with an antitoxin.
- The paralysing effects of the toxin have been used to treat the appearance of wrinkles via the product Botox. Cases of botulism can occur in using too-strong formulations of Botox.