Weeks After Baby Rushed to ER, a Diagnosis: Botulism

Arizona's Cole Hansberger started showing symptoms the day before his first birthday
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 18, 2017 1:28 PM CDT
Baby Critically Ill After Being Stricken by Botulism
Get better soon, little guy.   (GoFundMe)

A 1-year-old in Arizona is critically ill after doctors say he tested positive for botulism, the Arizona Republic reports. On Aug. 5, the day before Cole Hansberger's first birthday, his mom, Jackie, noticed a few strange things: first, his drooping head while he was crawling around, then a complete cessation of crawling by 5pm that day, and finally, an inability to sit up by early the next morning. Cole was rushed to the ER at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center, where doctors at first scratched their heads on what caused this sudden deterioration. On a GoFundMe page set up by Robert Hansberger, ID'd by Fox News as Cole's dad, Robert explains how the baby underwent a plethora of CT scans, blood and urine analysis, and "tests upon tests with no answers," until finally, on Wednesday, an update revealed that Cole had tested positive for botulism.

A Banner Thunderbird spokesperson tells ABC15 Cole may have contracted the disease—a rare condition in which toxins attack the body's nerves—from soil and dust near his home in Peoria. Dr. Rahul Chawla, the doctor treating Cole, tells the Republic Cole's symptoms were textbook: weakness starting in his face before drifting to other parts of his body. The CDC also notes that infants with this disease will often seem lethargic, appear "floppy," and not want to eat. Even though Cole is still on a ventilator and can barely move his arms and legs, Chawla says after a stay of another week to 10 days in ICU, he should eventually start getting back to normal if all goes well. He'll have to go to physical therapy, though, and regain muscle memory in his motor skills. Jackie, whom Chawla calls "a rock" who hasn't left Cole's side, says, "Sometimes you get frustrated with your children, but I would pay a million dollars just to hear my son cry." (A dad of two died of botulism from nacho cheese.)

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