Teen Fighting Botulism In Hospital From Nacho Cheese

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CBS 13) – The 16-year-old from Walnut Grove who fell victim to botulism has opened his eyes after a month in intensive care. His family is still hopeful he’ll recover soon but still worried that he’s having trouble breathing.

“It causes a paralysis that goes from your head down,” said Dr. Mary Anne Limbos, Deputy Health Director for Yolo County Health and Human Services. “The most devastating consequence is respiratory failure.”

Botulism is a rare but serious illness caused by a nerve toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Botulism is rare and fewer than 150 cases are reported in the U.S. each year. But once you’re infected with botulism poisoning, the CDC says the symptoms show up within 18 to 36 hours.

Symptoms include:

  • Double or blurred vision
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Dry mouth
  • Muscle weakness

Roughly 5 percent of cases are fatal, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Just last week, an Antioch man, Martin Galindo, died after contracting botulism at a gas station in Walnut Grove. CDPH testing confirmed nacho cheese sauce sold at the gas station was positive for the toxin that causes botulism. Jonathan Villaseñor Corona has been in the hospital for the last 30 days after eating the cheese.

“Recovering from respiratory failure and being on a ventilator can take could take weeks to months,” Dr. Limbos said.

Long-Term Effects include:

  • Weakness
  • Difficulty Eating and Speaking
  • Paralysis
  • Neurological Problems

“The period of recovery can vary, depending on the amount of toxin you’ve ingested and can also depend on how healthy the person was before they got sick,” Limbos said.

She told CBS13 young people may recover faster than adults who have chronic illnesses. But experts say it’s tough to predict how each patient will bounce back from such an intense illness.

“There may be some life-long consequences that don’t entirely get better,” Dr. Limbos said.

The California Department of Public Health is working with four local health departments to investigate the outbreak. The nacho cheese sauce has not been sold since May 5 and CDPH says there is no ongoing risk to the public.

More from Macy Jenkins
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