New case of botulism appears on Valley Isle
A second Maui man might have contracted botulism after eating a nationally recalled product.
On Friday, Keith Regan, 35, checked into the Maui Memorial Medical Center, where he was told that he has a mild case of botulism. He was released that afternoon.
"It's kind of a shock," he said. "I just wish there'd been more warnings with the (food) labels that are familiar to us in Hawaii."
Regan, of Wailuku, last ate a can of Cattle Drive chili on July 20, a day before the chili maker, Castleberry's Food Co., recalled more than 90 brands of chili, stew and other food products that could contain the poisonous bacteria.
Several of the Augusta, Ga., company's products have been removed from store shelves in Hawaii. Regan bought the chili from Costco in Kahului, which has since stopped selling the products.
It is the second possible case of botulism within a week. The rare illness is caused by a nerve toxin that can paralyze the muscles and lead to death. No cases have been confirmed.
In both instances the men reportedly ate a can of Cattle Drive chili before falling sick.
Regan ate about three-quarters of the can with nachos before having flulike symptoms that afternoon.
"It felt like I was just sick," he said. "I was feeling very tired, loss of energy, kind of lethargic."
He also had diarrhea and a tingling sensation in his head and shoulders. Later, he had tingling and pain in his fingers, and his vision began blurring. Through the week, however, the symptoms began to diminish.
Friday, after learning through e-mail about a Maui man sickened after eating a recalled product, Regan immediately went to the emergency room.
Doctors told him it was likely botulism and that it could take months for the symptoms to subside while the toxin worked its way out of his system.
Afterward, a state epidemiologist called Regan and asked him about his illness.
"She was just calling to make sure that I was OK," he said.
Janice Okubo, spokeswoman for the state Department of Health, said, "We were contacted by the hospital, so we are checking on it."
To confirm cases of botulism, samples need to be sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Okubo said interviews with Regan will warrant whether samples should be taken.
On Thursday, Jonathan Stockton, 33, of Hana went to Maui Memorial Medical Center with muscle weakness and facial paralysis. Stockton has the clinical criteria for botulism, and his samples will be sent to the CDC, the state Health Department said. He was released Saturday.
Two people in Texas and two people in Indiana were confirmed to have been sickened from contaminated food.
Anyone who has the recalled product should double-bag it and throw it away, according to the Health Department.