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Illinois officials warn of botulism symptoms from possibly counterfeit Botox

Two cases of symptoms similar to botulism have been reported in Illinois of people who received injections in LaSalle County of Botox or a similar possibly counterfeit product. The Illinois Department of Public Health is working with the LaSalle County Health Department and the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation on the investigation of the cluster. A similar cluster was also reported by the Tennessee Department of Health.

The two individuals in Illinois reported symptoms similar to botulism such as blurred/double vision, droopy face, fatigue, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, hoarse voice following injection with either Botox or a possibly counterfeit version of the product. Both were hospitalized. Both had received injections from a licensed nurse in LaSalle County who was performing work outside her authority.

In Illinois, the injection of botulinum toxin, the key ingredient in Botox, is a practice of medicine that may only be performed by certain licensed professionals who are licensed and regulated.

In the alert to healthcare providers, state health officials urged providers and especially emergency department staff to be on the lookout for patients with symptoms that resemble botulism.

Botulism is a rare, but potentially deadly illness characterized by muscle paralysis. Botulism is caused by a nerve toxin that is produced by a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum found in nature, which is an ingredient in Botox and other similar substances used for cosmetic reasons. The purified form of the botulinum toxin is approved by the FDA for use by licensed healthcare providers as a cosmetic treatment.

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