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Nacho Cheese Sold in California Gas Station Linked to Sudden Botulism Outbreak

May 23, 2017 04:59 AM EDT
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State and local health officials have temporarily stopped a Sacramento gas station from selling prepared foods after being linked to a sudden botulism outbreak that sickened 10 people.

Investigations conducted by the Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services revealed that the cause of botulism appears to be the prepared food, particularly the nacho cheese sauce, being sold at mom- and pop- gas station in Walnut Grove.

"From the preliminary testing of the cheese, it was positive for botulism," said Dr. Oliva Kasirye, a health inspector with the Sacramento County Public Health Department and part of the investigation team, in a report from CBS News.

So far, there are only 10 cases recorded by the health department. However, officials noted that there are possibly more unreported cases because the gas station is located on a busy road. There is a high possibility that not only the locals are affected by the outbreak, but travelers who come out fishing or just passing by the state might be sickened as well.

The outbreak was first reported on May 5, after five individuals who bought the prepared food from the gas station got sick. Since then, four more additional cases were confirmed, while another one is being tested after showing similar symptoms.

Botulism is a rare disease caused by a toxin released by bacteria. The toxin usually attacks the body's nerve, leading to loss of some motor functions and speech. Most common symptoms of botulism include slurred speech, blurry vision, difficulty in swallowing and muscle weakness. Foodborne botulism is spread through the consumption of contaminated food. Symptoms typically become apparent 18 to 36 hours after the exposure.

Commonly caused by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, botulism can sometimes be caused by strains of Clostridium butyricum and Clostridium baratii. It is usually treated with anti-toxin. Despite being labeled as fatal, report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that only three to five percent of botulism patients die.

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