A Sacramento County woman who drizzled nacho cheese from a gas station dispenser onto her Doritos has been hospitalized for nearly a month after contracting botulism, a serious illness caused by bacteria that can cause paralysis, breathing difficulty and, potentially, death.
Lavinia Kelly is so sick that she can’t speak or breathe on her own and spent her 33rd birthday this week in an intensive care unit, the Sacramento Bee reported.
Now, Sacramento County health officials say, Kelly is one of at least five people sickened in a botulism outbreak that has been linked to the nacho cheese at Valley Oak Food and Fuel in the Sacramento suburb of Walnut Grove.
All five people whose botulism has been confirmed have been hospitalized, the Sacramento County Health and Human Services Department said in a statement. Health officials are investigating three other probable cases and one suspected case, according to the Sacramento Bee.
County officials halted the sale of prepared food at Valley Oak Food and Fuel on May 5, according to the health department.
On Tuesday, Kelly’s family filed a civil lawsuit against Valley Oak Food and Fuel, alleging negligence, strict product liability and breach of implied warranty, Sacramento County Superior Court records show.
Kelly, a mother of three, was driving home from work on April 21 when she stopped at the gas station for a snack. Within hours of eating the nacho-cheese sauce, she felt tired, her partner, Ricky Torres, told the Bee.
The next day, Kelly had double vision and an unsteady gait, according to court records. She went to Sutter Medical Center, where she is currently staying, but was sent home.
By April 23, Kelly could barely breathe and had trouble speaking, court records show. Torres rushed her back to Sutter Medical Center, where doctors put her on a ventilator and admitted her to the intensive care unit.
She can’t open her eyes, so when she wants to see who has come into a room, family members lift her eyelids and sometimes use tape to keep them open, Torres told the Bee.
“We just don’t understand why this happened over a bag of chips and nacho cheese,” Torres said. “Really? How does that happen?”
Kelly’s prognosis, according to the lawsuit, is uncertain.