SACRAMENTO -- Doctors say they found methylmercury in a jar of face cream owned by a Sacramento woman who fell ill at the end of June.
"You know, she doesn't speak and we're not really sure if she's fully focused looking at us and stuff," said the patient’s son, who wanted to be known as Jay. "She can't get up, stand, walk or none of that. She's just kind of bedbound kind of right now."
Methylmercury is a central nervous system toxin formed when bacteria react with inorganic mercury in water, soil or plants.
The 47-year-old woman’s son said she had been buying Pond's Rejuveness cream from Jalisco, Mexico, through a friend of a friend for 12 years without any trouble. Jay said his mother knew some kind of additive was being put into the jars before it was shipped.
She was hospitalized for a week before methylmercury was identified as the culprit in her slurred speech and loss of motor function.
"It's really hard, you know, pretty much just knowing who my mom is … who she ... her personality,” Jay told FOX40. "She's a very active woman, you know, early in the morning, get up, do her morning exercises, walks with her dog.”
A public health educator from the Sacramento County Health Department said Jay's mother is the first person in the country to suffer from this kind of mercury poisoning.
“We shouldn't have any mercury in our body but if you did, you would want it less than five. Hers was over 2,600 parts per million," the public health educator said.
Jay said his father and his four siblings, the youngest of whom is just 15 years old, are racked with worry and struggling without “the backbone of our family.”
He said he can't believe his mother's life in is jeopardy over a twice a day skincare routine no one in the family ever thought twice about.
Jay and county health officers now have the same dire warning for the public.
"Anything similar to my mom's situation, stop using it and keep yourself safe," Jay said.