Monday, May 22, 2017

One Man Dead, A Mom Still Hospitalized after Three Weeks, Both Consumed Contaminated Nacho Cheese Sauce

One woman's story, associated with the botulism in gas station nacho sauce case, highlights the issues for someone with botulism poisoning.  A few hours after eating Doritos drizzled with nacho cheese sauce, she felt fatigue and by the next day, she had blurred vision followed by vomiting and difficulty in breathing.  These symptoms are caused by the  neurotoxin produced by Clostridium botulinum as it grew in the nacho cheese sauce. Once the toxin contaminated food is consumed, "Botulinum toxin causes flaccid paralysis by blocking motor nerve terminals at the neuromuscular junction. The flaccid paralysis progresses symmetrically downward, usually starting with the eyes and face, to the throat, chest, and extremities. When the diaphragm and chest muscles become fully involved, respiration is inhibited and, without intervention, death from asphyxia results". (FDA Bad Bug Book)

There has also been one death being associated with the tainted nacho cheese.  A man had been on life support.  This has not yet been confirmed by State officials.

There are now 10 people that have been affected from eating at this establishment.

Sacramento Bee
Mom put nacho cheese on her Doritos. Three weeks later, she’s still in the hospital.
By Sammy Caiola
May 16, 2017
Lavinia Kelly hasn’t been able to speak or breathe on her own since she was hospitalized three weeks ago with botulism, a rare form of food poisoning that she believes she contracted after eating nacho-cheese sauce sold at a Sacramento area gas station. Now, the Sacramento woman is suing the gas station due to her ongoing ordeal.

The California Department of Public Health is investigating the cases of 10 people with botulism, all of whom are currently hospitalized, the department announced Friday. The state agency is working with four local public health departments on the investigation, but will not reveal what counties the patients live in. They believe the outbreak is linked to nacho cheese sauce that was served at Valley Oak Food and Fuel gas station, but the exact cause of the poisoning is still under investigation, officials said.

Kelly, 33, was driving home from work as an inventory manager on April 21 when she pulled over at the gas station’s small market for a snack. She picked up a bag of Doritos chips and drizzled them with nacho-cheese sauce, said her partner, Ricky Torres.

Within hours, the usually upbeat mother of three felt fatigued, he said. The next morning she complained of double vision and went to Sutter Medical Center, but was sent home hours later. By that evening, she was vomiting and having difficulty breathing, Torres said. He drove her back to the emergency room.

The next day, doctors ventilated Kelly and admitted her to the intensive care unit, where she’s been since. The neurotoxins have affected her motor control to the point that she can’t open her eyes, Torres said. When Kelly wants to see who has entered the room, he and other loved ones lift her eyelids open, sometimes using tape to keep them up.

“We’re just trying to figure out what happened,” Torres said. “Now I spend most of time at the hospital, I’m just trying to get 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 gas station) should have been more aware. They’re handling that stuff every day. I know they probably didn’t make the cheese per se, but they handle that stuff in the store.”

Earlier this month, county health officials temporarily revoked the gas station’s permit to sell food and drink. Employees on site declined to comment last week, and the business could not be reached by telephone Tuesday.

Botulism is a rare but serious illness that occurs when botulinum bacteria multiply, usually in moist, low-oxygen environments. The bacteria releases a nerve toxin, which causes gradual paralysis and sometimes death. Common symptoms include vomiting, blurred vision, difficulty breathing and muscle weakness.

People who consumed prepared food from the gas station, particularly nacho-cheese sauce, from April 23 through May 5 and have symptoms should contact their medical provider immediately.

The family filed a lawsuit against the gas station in Sacramento County Superior Court on Tuesday for negligence, product liability and breach of implied warranty.

Bruce Clark, an attorney at Seattle-based food safety law firm Marler Clark who is working on Kelly’s case, said most botulism outbreaks are associated with home canning, with occurrences at a store extremely rare. The U.S. saw 161 confirmed cases of botulism in 2014, only 15 of which were food-borne, according to the most recent report on botulism from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Only human mistakes create the environment for botulinum toxin to form,” Clark said. “We will use the lawsuit to learn more about the source of the food product that was contaminated. The source of the food product may be unrelated to the gas station; it could be a commercially made, pre-packaged item. That’s an essential question.”

The firm’s team has not yet estimated how much in damages the family will seek, but said past botulism cases have been resolved for millions of dollars.

“They’re acquiring astounding medical bills,” Clark said.

Read more here:

Huffington Post
Man Dies After Eating Gas Station’s Nacho Cheese Sauce
Martin Galindo was one of 10 people who contracted botulism from the cheese

By Nina Golgowski
05/23/2017 03:14 pm ET

One of 10 people sickened last month by a tainted batch of nacho cheese from a California gas station has died, health officials said Monday. Martin Galindo, a 37-year-old father of two, died after contracting the foodborne disease botulism, his family shared on a GoFundMe page.  On Thursday, Galindo was taken off of life support, ending a weeks-long battle, his family said.

Tests have meanwhile confirmed that a cheese product supplied at the Valley Oak Food and Fuel gas station in Walnut Grove, Sacramento County, contained a toxin that causes botulism, which is spread through contaminated food or water, California’s Department of Public Health said on Monday.

Though the CDPH did not identify last week’s fatality by name, the San Francisco Office of the Medical Examiner confirmed Galindo’s death, as well as a related botulism investigation, to the Sacramento Bee.

Botulism is the same foodborne disease that has been linked to the sickening of nine other people who consumed the gas station cheese, including a mother of three who was placed in intensive care.

The CDPH said the gas station stopped selling the cheese sauce on May 5 and they believe there is no continuing risk to the public.

Botulism, whose symptoms including vomiting, blurry vision, slurred speech, dry mouth and gradual paralysis, is a rare illness that results in death just 3 to 5 percent of the time, according to the CDPH.

It’s most often linked to home-canned foods that lack proper hygienic procedures, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“While there are still unanswered questions about this outbreak, these tragic illnesses are important reminders to be vigilant about food safety,” said Dr. Karen Smith, a state public health officer and the director of CDPH. “As we head into the summer barbecue season, both indoor and outdoor chefs need to be on guard against all foodborne illnesses.”

Wisconsin-based food manufacturer Gehl Foods meanwhile has been identified as the supplier of one of the products seized from the gas station.

In a statement, Gehl Foods CEO Eric Beringause said they are working with federal, state and local health authorities and are “praying for the individuals battling the illness and their families.”

“We immediately retested samples from the relevant lot of cheese, and it remains clear of any contamination. To ensure the integrity of those test results, we also sent multiple samples to an independent lab, which confirmed our findings,” Beringause said. “Gehl’s facilities remain safe for food production and all of our food samples continue to test negative for any contaminants. There is no recall of Gehl’s nacho cheese product.”

The CDPH advises that when people cook food they make it’s cooked to the right temperature, wash their hands and surfaces often, and refrigerate foods properly and separate raw meats from other foods

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