First in was Norovirus near Rio Linda, and now it’s botulism in NorCal.
There’s been an “outbreak” of botulism, and Sac County Public Health officials have narrowed it down to a single source. They’re saying that in 4 of the 5 cases, the people who contracted the food poisoning have one thing in common – they all ate something from a gas station. The station in question is Valley Oak Food & Fuel. That’s in Walnut Grove, right off the Sacramento River.
There are five cases that they’re working with. All five of the people affected are in serious condition at a couple different hospitals. Four of those five say they ate some kind of prepared food from that gas station. They’re trying to spread the word that if you’ve eaten anything from that location in the past few weeks (since April 23rd), and you’re experiencing any of the symptoms associated with botulism, you should get some kind of medical help immediately.
The most common symptoms, according to Dr. Olivia Kasirye, a Public Health officer, are severe stomach cramps and vomiting. More serious but less common symptoms are blurry vision, slurred speech, breathing trouble and “droopy” eyelids. Botulism is rare and can be fatal. The bacteria is called “clostridium botulinum, and it actually produces a nerve toxin that can cause someone to stop breathing if it gets into the respiratory system. Hospitals can treat botulism, and one of the necessary treatments is a breathing support system in addition to antitoxin.
Dr. Kasirye says that outbreaks are so rare that she can’t even remember the last time Sacramento County had one. Sometimes a single person will come in with it, but the fact that there have been 5 cases in just two weeks is worrisome. Hospitals are required to report cases of botulism to the Department of Public Health and the county Department of Environmental Health, and they have the authority to actually shut down sales of prepared food at teh gas station.