Serious illnesses reported in two US states due to fake botox injections 

At least two states have seen people hospitalised with symptoms resembling botulism after undergoing cosmetic injections, commonly referred to as “botox,” in non-medical environments. 

An ongoing investigation has been conducted by the CDC, US Food and Drug Administration, and multiple states, which “suggests that the product administered was counterfeit,” as stated in a press release from the Tennessee Department of Health.

In Tennessee, four cases have been documented, with two needing hospitalisation. Similarly, two patients in Illinois have also been hospitalised. 

Botulism, a rare yet severe illness, is triggered by toxins released by bacteria attacking the nervous system. Symptoms may include blurred or double vision, drooping eyelids, breathing difficulties, fatigue, slurred speech, or a hoarse voice. Without treatment, muscle paralysis can escalate over hours to days, potentially leading to fatality.

The Illinois Department of Public Health notes that Clostridium botulinum bacteria are found in botox and similar cosmetic substances. However, the FDA has approved the purified form of botulinum toxin for use by licensed healthcare providers in cosmetic treatments. 

Instances of laboratory-confirmed systemic botulism following cosmetic or therapeutic botulinum toxin injections are rare, according to the CDC.

Nevertheless, in Illinois, both patients received injections from a licensed nurse in La Salle County who was operating beyond her authorised scope. 

Tennessee has also expressed concerns regarding injections performed in non-medical environments such as homes or cosmetic spas.

In a statement, The CDC said: “Cosmetic injections should be an FDA-approved product, administered by licensed providers and in licensed settings. The sources of these botulinum toxin products are unknown or unverified at this time.”

Dr. Sameer Vohra, director of the Illinois Health Department added: “Illinois residents should exercise caution when considering cosmetic treatment. 

Receiving these treatments in unlicensed, unapproved settings can put you or your loved ones at serious risk for health problems. Please only seek cosmetic services under the care of licensed professionals trained to do these procedures and who use FDA-approved products. 

If you are experiencing any health problems after a recent cosmetic treatment, please contact your healthcare provider immediately for help and assistance.”

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