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Woman who ate expired pesto gets paralyzed, stays in hospital for a year

By NICK GARCIA Published Sep 29, 2023 12:42 pm

A woman from Brazil who ate expired pesto suffered a rare form of food poisoning, leaving her temporarily paralyzed and stuck in the hospital for a year.

According to a Sept. 28 report by PEOPLE Magazine, Doralice Carneiro Sobreira Goes, 47, bought the expired pesto from a local farmer's market in December 2021. She only ate it the following month.

Goes said the pesto didn't have an expiration date and the shopkeeper didn't give her storage instructions.

While the pesto didn't appear spoiled as it was "actually delicious," she said she felt ill the next day. “My body didn’t feel right, my breathing had gotten worse, and my tongue felt like it was tingling,” Goes is quoted as saying.

She brought herself to the hospital and felt that her body "stopped working" after parking her car. She threw herself out of the vehicle, and luckily, a hospital employee saw her and brought her inside.

During the examination, Goes recalled vomiting and struggling to breathe. She was also only able to move her two toes.

She was diagnosed with botulism, which is caused by a toxin produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

In severe cases, it can cause breathing problems or even respiratory failure "if the toxin paralyzes the muscles involved in breathing."

"If that happens, your doctor may put you on a breathing machine (ventilator) until you can breathe on your own. The paralysis caused by the toxin usually improves slowly," the CDC said.

It's treated through antitoxin and sometimes through surgery and antibiotics. The antitoxin only prevents the toxin from causing any more harm and doesn't heal the damage that's already been done.

Depending on the severity of symptoms, a patient may have to stay in the hospital for weeks or even months.

Goes said she can now feed herself and urinate by herself after a year.

She's still struggling to walk, though uses a walker. She has also managed to breathe "without help" for nine months, PEOPLE reported.