Botulism Outbreak in Northern and Central California

Recently, at least 10 cases of foodborne botulism have been reported to various county public health departments throughout Northern and Central California, including Sacramento, San Joaquin, Colusa, and Solano. These cases have been happening from mid-April through last week, May 16, 2017.

All of the incidences have been traced back to nacho cheese sauce purchased from the Valley Oak Food and Fuel gas station in Walnut Grove in Sacramento County. The sauce was removed on May 5, and the sale of prepared food at the gas station was completely halted on May 6.

While no cases of botulism from this outbreak have been reported in Alameda or Contra Costa County residents, people who consumed prepared food at that gas station until May 6 may still develop symptoms of the toxin.

Botulism is a rare and potentially life-threatening bacterial illness caused by Clostridium botulinum, a bacteria that grows on food and produces toxins. Once ingested, the toxins can cause paralysis. At first, people can experience weakness in muscles supplied by the cranial nerves, including near the eyes and face. People will have trouble controlling eye movement, facial movements, and even chewing and swallowing. Severe botulism may result in reduced movement of the abdominal muscles, which can prevent people from breathing properly and can lead to brain damage or death. Symptoms to look for include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Double vision
  • Dry skin, mouth, and throat
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Slurred speech
  • Muscle weakness
  • Body aches
  • Lack of fever
  • Paralysis

Most botulism patients never fully recover from the toxins. After 3 months to a year of recovering, continuing side effects are most likely permanent and can include fatigue, weakness, dizziness, dry mouth, and trouble performing difficult tasks.

If you think you may have ingested a toxic food item, see a physician immediately. If the bacteria is found early, it can be treated with an antitoxin that blocks circulation of the toxin in the bloodstream. This treatment can prevent the infection from worsening, but recovery still takes several weeks. For more information about the outbreak, see the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency Health Advisory here.

Botulism poisoning is no laughing matter and can lead to extensive medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If someone was careless in the preparation of your food, you shouldn’t have to pay for their mistake. Contact one of our Sacramento personal injury attorneys at Del Rio & Carichoff, P.C. for a free consultation. Our attorneys are real people who get real results for real injuries. We want to ensure those who caused you harm answer for their negligence. Our passion is standing up for the little guys. We also understand you may be experiencing some of the worst circumstances of your life. Our attorneys will take the time to understand your particular situation so we can craft our legal services to fit your needs. Contact us at (916) 634-0324 or fill out our online form to schedule a free case consultation today. Let us see what we can do for you.


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