A person has died after contracting botulism linked to a batch of nacho cheese sauce sold at a Sacramento County gas station, health officials said Monday.
The California Department of Public Health did not identify the patient or provide details about the death. According to the department, 10 patients were hospitalized after eating tainted nacho cheese sauce from Valley Oak Food and Fuel gas station in Walnut Grove.
Health officials said the cheese had tested positive for the toxin the causes botulism, a rare illness caused by bacteria that can trigger paralysis, breathing difficulties and lead to death. The patients contracted the same toxin found in the cheese sauce.
“While there are still unanswered questions about this outbreak, these tragic illnesses are important reminders to be vigilant about food safety,” said Karen Smith, director and state public health officer for the department, which is investigating the outbreak.
Officials have declined to say in which counties the cases were reported.
Sacramento County authorities halted the sale of prepared foods at the gas station shop on May 5 after learning of the botulism outbreak. Health officials urged customers who ate the shop’s nacho cheese between April 23 and May 5 to contact their personal medical providers.
Lavinia Kelly, a mother of three, is one of the customers who was hospitalized after eating the nacho cheese.
Her family is suing the gas station, alleging negligence, strict product liability and breach of implied warranty, according to Sacramento County Superior Court records.
Kelly was driving home from work on April 21 when she stopped at the gas station for a bag of Doritos with nacho cheese dip. Hours after devouring the snack, she felt tired, her partner, Ricky Torres, told the Sacramento Bee. The next day, she had double vision and an unsteady gait.
Kelly went to Sutter Medical Center, but was sent home. At home, she had trouble breathing and speaking so her partner rushed her back to the hospital, according to court records. Doctors put her on a ventilator and admitted her to the intensive care unit.