Lavinia Kelly went from being a busy, happy mother of three to a partially paralyzed hospital patient after putting nacho cheese on her Doritos at a gas station, family members say. The Sacramento resident, who turned 33 on Wednesday, is one of at least five confirmed cases of botulism involving people who had eaten at Valley Oak Food and Fuel in Walnut Grove, with another four probable or suspected cases, the Sacramento Bee reports. All nine are still being treated at area hospitals. According to a lawsuit filed this week, Kelly, who became ill within hours of eating the cheese on April 21, remains in the hospital in intensive care, unable to speak or even open her eyes on her own, Food Safety News reports.
Relatives say Kelly's symptoms started with fatigue and progressed to double vision, vomiting, and difficulty breathing. "We just don’t understand why this happened over a bag of chips and nacho cheese," partner Ricky Torres tells the Bee. "Really? How does that happen?” Bruce Clark, an attorney specializing in food safety cases, is handling the family's negligence lawsuit. He says "only human mistakes create the environment for botulinum
toxin to form," and those mistakes are thankfully rare: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's most recent botulism report, only 15 of the 161 US botulism cases in 2014 were food-borne. (This woman ended up paralyzed after a trip to a city park.)