An outbreak of foodborne botulism originating from a gas station in Walnut Grove has left 10 people hospitalized and health officials are saying that one Antioch resident may have died as a result of food poisoning. According to a report in the East Bay Times, the botulism outbreak was linked to nacho cheese sauce sold at the Valley Oak Food and Fuel gas station in Walnut Grove.
Death and Serious Illness
Health officials said a 37-year-old man from Antioch identified as Martin Galindo also died in a San Francisco hospital after contracting botulism linked to the cheese. The sale of prepared food at the gas station in question has been stopped. Galindo’s family said he died in the hospital of botulism after falling into a coma. He was declared clinically brain-dead and was taken off life support.
Another seriously injured victim is 33-year-old Lavinia Kelly who became paralyzed after picking up a bag of chips and nacho cheese sauce at the same gas station. Her attorney said Kelly fell ill the same day she consumed the food. She was discharged by doctors, but was back in the emergency room in worse condition, requiring assistance from a ventilator to continue breathing. Health officials have issued an alert saying that anyone who consumed nacho cheese sauce from this particular gas station between April 23 and May 5 and is experiencing symptoms of food poisoning should contact their medical provider right away.
Dangers of Botulism
Clostridium botulinum grows on food that has not been properly canned or preserved and is often found in canned cheese sauce. The bacteria is rare, but is extremely toxic paralyzing victims or causing double vision, slurred speech, dry mouth and muscle weakness. If identified early, an antitoxin can be used to treat botulism, before the onset of paralysis. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the last 50 years, the percentage of patients with botulism who have died as a result has dropped from 50 percent to 5 percent.
If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms, get medical attention, care and treatment immediately. Report your illness to your local health agency, which tracks these types of outbreaks. Isolate and preserve the food, if any of it is left over, so it can be tested for the presence of bacteria or other pathogens. Contact an experienced California food poisoning lawyer who will help hold the negligent parties accountable. Food producers and establishments that serve food are required to follow food safety regulations and to ensure that the products they serve to customers are safe to consume.