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Watch out for counterfeit Botox injections that are causing a botulism-like illness

BotulinumHealth agencies are investigating reports of harmful reactions in people who received injections of counterfeit or mishandled Botox.

Consumers in California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington have reported harmful reactions after receiving Botox  injections from unlicensed or untrained individuals or in non-healthcare settings, such as homes and spas.

The photo at the left, from the FDA website, is of counterfeit Botox.

Twenty-two people in these states have reported adverse reactions and 11 have been hospitalized. Six were treated with botulism antitoxin because of concerns that the botulinum toxin could have spread beyond the injection site.

Botulism is a rare but serious condition caused by a toxin that attacks the body’s nerves.

The investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, several state and local health departments, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is ongoing.

Watch for these symptoms of botulism

The following are symptoms people have reported experiencing in the recent outbreak, according to the CDC:

  • Blurry vision and double vision.
  • Drooping eyelids.
  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Fatigue.
  • Generalized weakness.

What you should do to protect yourself

If you are considering an injection of botulinum toxin for medical or cosmetic reasons such as for wrinkles:

  • Ask your provider and setting – such as clinic or spa – if they’re licensed and trained to give the injection. Your state may have a license look-up tool where you can check if a provider or setting has the appropriate license.
  • Ask if the product is approved by FDA and obtained from a reliable source.
  • Don’t get the injection if you have any doubt.

See your healthcare provider or go to the emergency room immediately if you have any symptoms of botulism, the CDC advises.


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Beth Havey

Yes, the key is going to someone who is licensed to use Botox and has a reputation for providing an exceptionally clean environment for seeing patients and administering it.
I had botox once, while living in California. I enjoyed the results, but then you have to keep going, and after a while it just doesn't seem worth it. I have also had a brow lift...that is surgery...and one of the best decisions I ever made. Thanks for your post.

Laurie Stone

I can't imagine getting botox injections but that's me. There's nothing worse than someone who clearly has had too many, that very rubbery look they get. Sigh. I'll stick to being my imperfect, but natural, self.

Carol Cassara

Injecting poison into your face sounds like such a good idea. NOT. I couldn't. And then that's the thing--we don't know the long term effects/harm.


When I tried to look up Vampire facelifts, I found a lot of articles about problems with Botox. I didn't even know what a Vampire facelift was. It and Botox can have problems. Research any Botox provider carefully. Skip the Vampire facelift.

Rebecca Olkowski

No Botox for me. I don't want that stuff in my face and many people look hideous afterward.


I agree with you 100 percent, Rebecca. No toxins shot into my face or body either.

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