One Dead, Nine Hospitalized After Eating Botulism-Tainted Nacho Cheese
A botulism outbreak in California has killed one man and sickened nine people; all had consumed nacho cheese sauce contaminated with toxic bacteria. The outbreak has been traced to a gas station in Sacramento County, confirmed Monday by the California Department of Public Health. The San Francisco coroner’s office said the person who died was a 37 year-old man.
Centers for Disease Control and Pevention say that botulism can be a silent killer. It is odorless and tasteless. Botulism poisoning can lead to paralysis, breathing difficulty and in some cases, death. Patients can be treated with an anti-toxin; if treated quickly it can arrest some of the action of the toxin circulating in the body. If the anti-toxin isn’t administered right away, muscle paralysis can result, which can take weeks or even years to reverse.
Fortunately, foodborne botulism is rare; there were only 20 outbreaks reported in the United States from 1996 to 2014 according to the CDC. Often outbreaks are associated with home canning procedures where the heating process does not kill the C. botulinum spores. In an anaerobic environment, these spores produce the deadly toxin.
All of the cheese product has been removed from retailer shelves. Further comment from Gehl Foods, the manufacturer, has not yet been released pending further investigations of the manufacturing plant where the cheese product originated.
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