A woman in Brazil was left paralyzed after eating pesto that was feared to be contaminated with a deadly bacteria.
Doralice Carneiro Sobreira Goes, 47, bought a jar of pesto last January at the local farmers market, where she was a regular customer.
However, the next day he slept 11 hours and his body “didn’t feel good.” Within 24 hours, she was completely paralyzed from the neck down.
Doctors diagnosed Ms. Goes with botulism, a rare disease caused by a toxin formed in the bacteria C. botulinum. Botulism attacks the body’s nerves and causes difficulty breathing, paralysis, and, if untreated, death.
Doctors believe Doralice Carneiro Sobreira Goes, 47, from Brazil, contracted botulism from a jar of pesto she bought at a farmers market. Her condition left her paralyzed.
Ms. Goes spent about a year in the hospital learning to eat, drink, talk and walk again.
Goes purchased the pesto on December 31, 2021 and left it in his pantry for about a month. Its appearance, color, aroma and flavor remained the same. The man who sold it to him didn’t give him any storage instructions and there was no expiration date printed on the bottle.
“When I finally decided to eat some, it was delicious,” he told NeedToKnowUK. “(The next day), (I slept) 11 hours straight.”
“My body didn’t feel good, my breathing had gotten worse and my tongue was tingling.”
Mrs. Goes drove herself to the emergency room, but by the end of the 12-mile trip, her symptoms had worsened dramatically.
“My body stopped working,” he said. “I couldn’t move my body, so I threw myself out of the car.”
Doctors rushed to perform a CT scan on him, but he was having trouble breathing and couldn’t stop vomiting during the exam. A neurologist noticed that he could only move two fingers.
Mrs. Goes was diagnosed with botulism, which affects just over 100 Americans a year. The disease is caused by a toxin released by the bacteria C. botulinum, which is normally found in mostly harmless spores in soil, marine areas and on the surface of foods such as fruits, vegetables and seafood.
According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the toxin produced by this bacteria is most often formed in foods that are not improperly canned at home, such as tomatoes and pickles.
In Mrs. Goes’ case, the pesto was red, so it could have been made with tomatoes or peppers. It is possible that the bacteria was in the ingredients used to make the pesto.
Botulism attacks the nervous system and symptoms begin within 12 hours of the toxin entering the body. Symptoms include difficulty swallowing, muscle weakness, double vision, drooping eyelids, blurred vision, difficulty speaking, difficulty breathing, vomiting, nausea and diarrhea, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
If left untreated, it can lead to paralysis and even death.
Doctors believe pesto was the most likely cause in Mrs. Goes’ case.
He was given an antibotulin drug, which allowed him to move his fingers and speak in short sentences. He also underwent physical therapy to strengthen his muscles.
Mrs. Goes remained in the hospital for about a year to recover from the paralysis. ‘I received treatments every day of the week,’ she said, ‘from myofascial release to analgesia, laser, cupping(s), Pilates to regain muscle tone, strengthening and pulmonary physiotherapy.’
She can now breathe without assistance and feed herself, as well as walk with a walker. Now she is more careful when buying food in restaurants, stores and fairs.
“It is now part of my story and I must overcome the difficulties that I now face,” he said.