Serum Meant to Treat Biological Attack Victims Used to Save Ill Baby

Doctors administer serum from emergency stores intended for biological attack to treat seven-month-old with toxin that causes botulism.

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The deadly botulinum toxin has been found in a seven-month-old baby from the coastal region. The baby’s life is in danger.

Several days ago, the baby was brought to Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot with symptoms of constipation, drowsiness, lack of appetite and difficulty breathing. A comprehensive examination by the staff of the pediatric ICU revealed that this was an extremely rare case of botulinum poisoning. The botulinum toxin can cause disruptions in the nervous and respiratory systems, complete muscle paralysis and even death. It is the toxin that causes botulism.

The baby was treated with a special serum originally intended for use in cases of injury from biological attack. It was brought in from the hospital’s storage of emergency supplies. Hospital officials said that the serum stopped the progress of the baby’s illness, and that they hope it will save his life as well.

According to the medical staff, the baby’s mother said that the baby had refused to eat and nurse, had begun vomiting and was having difficulty breathing. She told the doctors that her son appeared listless, unable to take fluids by mouth, and his eyelids drooped. Realizing then that this was an emergency, she took the baby to the emergency room. The baby was admitted with respiratory distress and muscle weakness in the throat and mouth. During his hospitalization, the doctors discussed the possibility that the cause might be a rare bacterium.

According to Dr. Eli Shapiro, the director of the pediatric intensive-care unit at Kaplan Hospital, this is an extremely rare case of poisoning. “This is the strongest toxin in nature. It causes severe disruption of the nervous system and quick paralysis of the muscles,” he said. “The baby arrived in a condition of general weakness with a process of nerve paralysis, difficulty in feeding, very weak crying and almost no facial expression, with no problems in the blood tests. The clinical picture matched the very rare diagnosis of botulinum poisoning. Since it is extremely important to administer the serum as early as possible in such cases, we requested the serum from emergency storage and administered it even before the laboratory tests confirmed the diagnosis.”

The baby’s life is still in danger, but the process of muscle paralysis has been arrested, and there has even been a tiny improvement in his muscle weakness.

The case was reported to the Health Ministry.