Denver (January 16, 2013) - Five month-old Keona Hinkel is still on a breathing machine in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children at P/SL, but she is getting better every day. Lab results confirm Keona has infant botulism, a rare diagnosis. Her parents want to tell their story, to educate parents on infant botulism.

On January 1, 2013 her mother Kari noticed Keona wasn’t eating as normal and the little girl seemed very tired.

She called her pediatrician, Dr. Adam Huff, who scheduled her for Jan. 2nd. When Kari brought Keona in to the pediatricians office, he told her to take her immediately to Sky Ridge Emergency Room. There, she was seen by Dr. Greg Stiller. Keona stopped breathing and doctors intubated her. She was taken by Airlife to Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children at P/SL.

Our team of Pediatric Intensive Care Specialists worked quickly to determine why Keona was sick. One of the team members, Pediatric Neurologist Dr. Benjamin Ross, was the first at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children to suspect botulism. Dr. Wendi Drummond, Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist, then did a thorough investigation before she was confident in the botulism diagnosis. From there she worked quickly and around the clock to obtain the infant botulism treatment. The treatment had to be flown in from a lab in California so every second of Dr. Drummond’s work counted. The Botulism Immune Globulin (BIG) was administered on January 4th, and she has been improving ever since.

In 2010 the Centers for Disease Control reported 85 cases of infant botulism and in 2009 there were 84 confirmed cases.

Here are the two possible situations that could have led to the infant botulism:

  • Spores in dust and dirt – Keona and her parents were visiting a relative’s house under renovation. They were in an area being worked on and the exposure could have happened at that time.
  • Indirect honey exposure – Kari was cooking with honey and it could have been on the counter or on Kari’s hands and then passed on to Keona. Kari is breast feeding and did not directly feed Keona honey. 

Additional medical assistance was provided by Dr. Tracy Butler and Dr. Monique Robles of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.

Physicians expect Keona to make a full recovery.

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tags: infant care