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Botulism Outbreak In CA Due To Gas Station Nacho Cheese Sauce

First Posted: May 22, 2017 06:14 AM EDT

Ten people were hospitalized due to botulism after consuming nacho cheese sauce served at a gas station outside of Sacramento, Calif. State and local officials said in a statement that the cause of such illness "appears to be prepared food, particularly nacho cheese sauce" from a gas station in Walnut Grove.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), botulism is a rare illness caused by nerve toxins that were released to the body. Symptoms include drooping eyelids, blurred vision, slurred speech and paralysis. In severe cases, it can even be fatal and can cause death to an individual who contracted the disease.

Lavinia Kelly, who was hospitalized after she consumed some of the cheese sauce, spent over three weeks in the Intensive Care Unit. While the store was ordered to stop selling prepared food since May 5, it was recently allowed to reopen and sell prepackaged food items on May 8. Later, it was revealed that a California Department of Public Health Officer seized four bags of cheese sauce from the woman.

In a statement sent to CNN, state health officials believed the disease to be caused by the nacho cheese sauce but has since been determined to not be an ongoing public risk. Botulism outbreaks, which are rare in itself, can spread through ingesting contaminated food. Symptoms to botulism usually appears around 18 to 36 hours after ingesting the contaminated food.

However, as the number of sick customers grow, so does the concern for those who lived in the area. A local woman said that what makes it tough for them was that in a small town, they know some of the youth affected by the illness, "so our hearts are heavy."

After the source of the outbreak was determined, the investigation will look into the cause of it and see if the gas station mishandled their food items or if the manufacturers and distributors are the ones at fault.

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