East Texas infant treated for rare case of infant botulism

Mother warns other parents to watch for symptoms
Updated: Jun. 21, 2019 at 6:25 PM CDT
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TROUP, TEXAS (KLTV) - An East Texas mother is warning parents about a rare illness that not only affected her baby, but others, as well.

“His name is Charles Ackley,” Elizabeth Ackley said as she held her four-month-old baby boy.

Ackley says these days Charlie enjoys getting on his knees to crawl and holding his head up. But it wasn’t that long ago that a then two-month old Charlie was in pediatric intensive care at a Dallas hospital.

It all started in April when little Charlie stopped eating and became lethargic.

“It was the 25th of April when he first started acting funny,” Ackley said. “He actually just wouldn’t eat. He had completely lost mobility on day five, which was Monday the 29th.”

At first, a doctor in Jacksonville treated Charlie for congestion and stomatitis. Doctors in Dallas would later begin treating Charlie for infant botulism.

“I actually asked the nurse practitioner there, ‘how close were we to death?’ She looked at me and said, ‘if you would have waited another 24 hours, he would have been critical.’”

Medicine was brought to Dallas by air from California. After a week and half in the hospital, Charlie’s smile was back and he was feeling better.

“They are suspecting environmental botulism,” Ackley said. “The spores, the toxin itself, is everywhere. It’s in the dirt, the trees, really anywhere. It’s not like common food botulism where you have to eat it. You can actually just breathe it in.”

The warning signs include poor feeding, decreased moment, breathing problems, and a weak cry. Fewer than 100 cases of botulism happen in the United States each year. The cause behind Charlie’s case is still unknown. We’ve told at least three other similar cases have been reported in East Texas.

“I think at this point, they are open to any possibility on what’s going on," Ackley said.

Botulism usually affects babies between three weeks and six-months old, but doctors say all babies are at risk until first birthday.

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