Illinois has reported two cases of illness with symptoms resembling botulism. Officials investigating the cases suspect they are possibly linked to fake cosmetic injections administered by an unlicensed practitioner.

The illnesses were reported in two people who received fake Botox or a similar, possibly counterfeit products in LaSalle County, the health officials said.

Botulism is a rare but severe condition that can result in muscle weakness and, in some cases, death. Symptoms usually begin with a lack of muscle coordination in areas like the eyes, face, mouth, and throat, which can progress to affect the neck, arms, torso, and legs. This progression may lead to breathing difficulties over time.

"The two individuals in Illinois reported symptoms similar to botulism such as blurred/double vision, droopy face, fatigue, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, hoarse voice following injection with either Botox or a possibly counterfeit version of the product. Both individuals in Illinois required hospitalization. Both had received injections from a licensed nurse in LaSalle County who was performing work outside her authority," the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) said in a news release.

The IDPH health officials have now requested health care professionals to be on a heightened lookout for patients who present with symptoms similar to botulism.

In Illinois, only licensed professionals with specific credentials are authorized to administer injections of botulinum toxin, which is the primary ingredient in Botox.

Botulism is triggered by a nerve toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, a naturally occurring microorganism. This is an essential ingredient in substances like Botox and similar products commonly used for cosmetic purposes.

"Illinois residents should exercise caution when considering cosmetic treatments. 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 FDA-approved 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," IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra said.

Meanwhile, consumers are encouraged to check if a professional is licensed with IDFPR by using the Department's License Lookup Tool and report any suspected wrongdoing by professionals to the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation (IDFPR).

"As the State of Illinois' head regulatory agency, IDFPR prioritizes protecting consumers and equipping them with the tools they need for safe, informed decision-making. We encourage everyone to use the resources on our website to ensure they receive services from trained, licensed professionals, as well as to inform us of the unlawful provision of medical services to maintain the highest quality of care throughout the State of Illinois," IDFPR Secretary Mario Treto Jr. said.