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Colorado native makes progress after falling severely ill in France botulism outbreak

Coloradan makes progress after getting sick in France botulism outbreak
Coloradan makes progress after getting sick in France botulism outbreak 00:21

Matt Jackson's family says the University of Colorado graduate and Colorado native is improving in a French hospital after getting botulism poisoning at a French restaurant earlier in September.

"This is positive," said his mother, Lynn Jackson of Littleton.


Matt is making progress on the pneumonia that hit him last week, when his family was very worried about the seriousness of his condition. He was treated with antibiotics, and his temperature was down after difficulty breathing brought on by the botulism poisoning. 

Now, he is able to breathe on his own but he is still intubated for backup. Some of the paralysis caused by the poisoning has eased, and Matt is now able to open his eyes and control one eye. His brother, also a Colorado native, continues to work with him along with medical staff to help him regain movement.

While botulism poisoning is potentially deadly, recovery for survivors can often be complete, especially if they get an anti-toxin early. But Matt Jackson did not get it until about five days after he ingested tainted sardines at a restaurant in Bordeaux.

Matt Jackson and Kristy Benner CBS

Matt and his longtime girlfriend, Kristy Benner, both CU graduates, live in California. They were on vacation in France in early September when they ate sardines at the Tchin Tchin Wine bar. The operator of the restaurant has since told authorities that he opened the preserved sardines, and while noting some smelled bad, he simply discarded some of them and served others over a six day span. 

As many as 25 people ate the tainted sardines, and more than a dozen got ill. One woman died. While Benner got mildly ill, she recovered. Matt became severely ill, but his was one of the early poisonings, and doctors were initially unsure of the cause.

The botulism toxin is produced by different forms of the botulinum bacteria and can grow in low oxygen environments such as home canned or jarred goods.

The restaurant's operator is being investigated for potential criminal charges by a local French prosecutor.

Matt's family is unsure of when they may be able to bring him back to the United States.

RELATED: University of Colorado graduate among those severely ill in France after botulism outbreak

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