TROUP, Texas (KETK) – There have been at least three confirmed cases of Infant Botulism in East Texas. It’s an illness that can be deadly for infants if left untreated.
Two cases were contracted in Troup, one in Mineola, and a fourth case in Tyler is currently being tested.
Net Health says the cases have “no correlation nor connection with each other, yet we have not learned the root cause of either of these three cases.”
When you meet 5-month-old Charlie from Troup, you would never suspect he was fighting for his life just three months ago, after contracting Environmental Botulism.
Even though he is now healthy, Charlie’s parents are concerned that other babies in East Texas are still at risk.
Charlie can easily be described as boisterous and happy.
“He talks a lot, he likes to play, he likes to be carried around, he loves his siblings. At this point he’s a normal 5-month-old baby,” says Elizabeth Ackley, Charlie’s mother.
However, he didn’t always have a contagious smile.
“He woke up and he was just fussy, he didn’t really want to eat. He just wanted to be held and he cried constantly,” explains Ackley.
Worried, Ackley took her son from doctor to doctor. With numerous tests yielding few answers. Physicians finally suspected his mysterious illness could be Botulism.
“Environmental Botulism, however, this was new to me I had never heard of it. Had never seen anything in regards to it,” says Ackley.
Just walking outside there are bacterial spores all around you, in the air. Once they come together and get inside an infant, they can release a toxin that can be dangerous.
“It’s the toxins that cause the problems, the symptoms and it’s a neurotoxin,” explains Dr. Ali Azghani, an infectious disease expert at UT Tyler.
Dr. Azghani says the illness is rare, but the first symptoms are rather common.
“If they are not active, they are weak they don’t want to eat, they don’t cry, they cry but the cry is weak,” says Dr. Azghani.
When asked why are these cases happening in East Texas, Dr. Azghani responded saying “I really can’t tell you.”
Not knowing how to protect your children, quickly becomes a parent’s worst nightmare.
“It’s terrifying especially for mothers who they don’t know what this is. They don’t know what causes it, they don’t know where it comes from,” says Ackley.
By sharing their story, the Ackley’s hope other East Texas families will recognize the signs sooner.
“You just go to bed with a healthy baby and then the next morning they wake up and their just not acting normal,” explains Ackley.
Experts say there is no way to fully prevent this illness, a lot of times, the bacteria comes from dirt and dust in the air.