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Colorado Tot Recovering from Rare Infant Botulism

A Colorado infant is recovering on a breathing machine at Rocky Mountain Hospital in Denver after being diagnosed with a rare type of botulism.

Dr. Tracy Butler with the hospital’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit told local media that if this botulism is not caught early, infants could stop breathing at home and run the risk of death. Known as “infant botulism,” it is a very rare illness that may be foodborne from honey or from exposure to the environment in the form of dust, dirt, or soils.

In the Colorado case, parents of Keona Hinkel acted quickly and contacted their doctor, who immediately sent them on to an Emergency Room. Keona was already at Sky Ridge Hospital when she stopped breathing and was put on a breathing machine.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, there are only about 85 confirmed cases of infant botulism a year in the entire United States. Kari Hinkel, Keona’s mother, says there is exposed soil due to work in the area they live, and she has used honey as an ingredient in cooking.

The National Institutes of Health list symptoms for infant botulism: breathing stops or slows, constipation, eyelids sag or partially close, infant appears “floppy”, infant doesn’t gag, loss of head control, paralysis that spreads downward, poor feeding and weak suckling, respiratory failure, tired all the time (lethargy) and a weak cry.

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