On Friday, the Health Department was informed of the first potential case here in Amarillo. They soon began investigating and discovered three other possible cases.
Two of the patients matched the criteria and were given the antitoxin. Doctors say they are slowly improving.
All four patients are adults and are currently hospitalized.
“We’ve got a small group of people who know each other in some manner, we hope that there are no other cases, but we just want to do our due diligence and make sure that we are protecting our community by providing information,” Casie Stoughton who is the Assistant Director of the City of Amarillo Public Health Department.
While one patient remains on a ventilator, another is now breathing on their own after receiving similar treatment.
Another patient had symptoms, began feeling better and then traveled to Georgia before having symptoms again and is currently hospitalized there.
The last patient is getting better on their own because officials say they caught it sooner than the others.
While all four of the patients know one another, the source of the illness has not been determined.
“There’s a lot we don’t know, we haven’t found common sources, we haven’t found any common restaurants, we haven’t found common…there’s just a lot of pieces of the puzzle that we don’t have,” Stoughton said.
The CDC out of Atlanta is sending experts to help the City of Amarillo investigate if these patients do have Botulism, and if so to determine the cause.
Since Botulism is a foodborne illness, the investigation will center around what the patients ate in the hours and days leading up to their illness.
Common symptoms include blurry vision, difficulty swallowing, slurred speech, and heavy or droopy eye lids. Because the bacteria attacks the body’s nerve endings, it can lead to paralysis.
Symptoms usually appear 12 to 36 hours after being exposed to the toxin, but it may take up to 8 days. Doctors say it can take up to 6 months for a patient to be fully healthy again. In some rare cases, if left untreated, Botulism can be fatal.