Woman, 23, Left Paralysed After Eating Soup

Claudia de Albuquerque Celada, 23, has been left paralysed after eating a can of soup.
Credit: @cacau_albuquerque/Instagram

A 23-year-old woman has been left paralysed after eating a can of soup.

A young Brazilian woman working in Colorado through an exchange program is fighting for her life in the hospital.

Claudia de Albuquerque Celada was admitted to Aspen Valley Hospital on February 17 with symptoms of paralysis, dizziness, double vision and shortness of breath, per the Aspen Daily News.

Following a short stay at AVH, she was airlifted to Swedish Medical Center in Denver.

And now, de Albuquerque Celada’s family has issued a warning to others.

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Within a day, de Albuquerque Celada was completely paralysed, necessitating ventilator support.

De Albuquerque Celada remains on a breathing aid.

Her sister, Luísa Albuquerque, posted on social media this week that the Denver hospital is paying for her flight home to Brazil via air ambulance.

Cacau Abuquerque
Claudia de Albuquerque Celada, 23, has been left paralysed after eating a can of soup. Credit: @cacau_albuquerque/Instagram

“We think that recovery close to family and friends is much faster. Comparing the costs between staying here and returning to Brazil, the return is still cheaper,” the sister said in another post.

The family associate in Aspen said: “Each day of hospitalisation costs an average of $10,000. The travel insurance she had ran out a long time ago, and her hospital bills are only rising.”

The family has been actively fundraising to cover de Albuquerque Celada’s medical expenses, which have escalated to $500,000 after 60 days of treatment in Denver.

Despite the hospital’s assistance with transport costs, they continue to seek support to alleviate the financial burden.

Claudia de Albuquerque Celada
Claudia de Albuquerque Celada, who is working in Colorado through an exchange program, is fighting for her life in the hospital. Credit: @cacau_albuquerque/Instagram

Health officials are urging caution, especially regarding food handling practices, after tracing the infection back to a pre-packaged soup she purchased while in Aspen.

Her workplace in Aspen, where she was part of an exchange program, has not been disclosed.

Tests on soup samples from the same store returned negative results, leading authorities to suspect mishandling during storage or reheating.

Recommendations include refrigerating perishables at four degrees Celsius or colder, ensuring thorough heating of food, and avoiding leaving food out for extended periods.

Cacau Abuquerque
Tests on soup samples from the same store returned negative results, leading authorities to suspect mishandling during storage or reheating. Credit: @cacau_albuquerque/Instagram

“Because an outbreak was ruled out, we really focus on the prevention aspect,” a representative at Pitkin County Health tells

“Because there wasn’t a common source of exposure that impacted a larger swatch of the population, or if there were multiple cases associated, we really look at food handling as likely being the cause of the infection.”

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“Claudia, known affectionately as Cacau, was on an exchange program when she was hospitalised on February 17, 2024, diagnosed with botulism. The disease, which has devastating neuroparalytic potential, plunged her family into unprecedented financial and emotional anguish,” reported a Brazilian media outlet in Portuguese, translated by Aspen News Daily.

A family member’s social media post said: “Botulism was identified only 15 days after symptoms appeared, but it is not known which food was contaminated with the bacteria.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says botulism ‘is a rare but serious illness caused by a toxin that attacks the body’s nerves’.

It continues: “Symptoms of botulism usually start with weakness of the muscles that control the eyes, face, mouth and throat. This weakness may spread to the neck, arms, torso and legs. Botulism also can weaken the muscles involved in breathing, which can lead to difficulty breathing and even death.”

Cacau Abuquerque
Botulism was identified 15 days after Claudia de Albuquerque Celada’s symptoms appeared. Credit: @cacau_albuquerque/Instagram

Botulism typically arises from consuming improperly preserved foods, commonly associated with homemade canning. It does not spread between individuals, posing no risk to the general public.

While botulism has a relatively low fatality rate, survivors often endure long-term disability and require extensive rehabilitation.

Even after recovery, lingering symptoms such as fatigue and respiratory issues may persist for years.

Doralice Goes, a fellow botulism survivor from Brazil, tells the Daily Mail: “I had treatments every day of the week from myofascial release to analgesia, laser, suction cup, pilates to recover muscular tone, strengthening and pulmonary physiotherapy.”

She now advocates for botulism awareness and better food safety standards, stating: “We need to talk about it and make consumers, industry and hospitals aware that this disease exists today. More food safety rules need to be implemented.”

Donations can be made via Venmo under the account name @cacaucelada or

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Written by Annie Walton Doyle

Annie Walton Doyle is a content editor at IGV who specialises in trending, lifestyle and entertainment news. She graduated from Goldsmiths, University of London, with a degree in English Literature. Annie has previously worked with organisations such as The Huffington Post, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Harvard University, the Pulitzer Prize and 22 Words.