Peoria botulism outbreak, 40 years later: ‘It grabs hold of you and stays’

Published by
Chicago Tribune

PEORIA, Ill. — Tracy Pinkham remembers all of it: The way the onions looked slimy and how she woke the next morning with a dry mouth and blurry vision that got worse as the day went on. Her head falling to her shoulders as her husband drove to a walk-in clinic that diagnosed her with an inner-ear infection and sent her home. The crowded emergency room. The doctor who scoured his medical textbook for answers. The two months on a breathing machine, paralyzed. The nightmares. The decades of muscle weakness that never seemed to get better despite physical therapy. “I used to joke that I died and …

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