Parents warning after baby poisoned by nearby building site

Kristine Tarbert

One minute, parents Jackie and Robert were celebrating their baby’s first birthday, the next, their son was fighting for his life struck down with botulism.

The Hansbergers went from absolute joy to being stuck in their worst nightmare, after baby Cole suffered a rare poisoning, possibly caused by a building site near their home in Arizona, US.

Now his parents are hoping to warns others.

"We are sharing Cole's story so parents become more aware of the potential dangers of infantile botulism and while most doctors have read about infantile botulism they have not experienced it first hand," Cole's mum Jackie tells Be.

"This has been one of the scariest experiences my husband and I have faced."

Baby Cole had just celebrated his first birthday. Photo: Gofundme

And at first, doctors had no idea what had happened.

“Cole’s been to different hospitals, had CT scans, blood, urine analysis and tests upon tests with no answers,” his devastated father wrote on a GoFundme to raise money for medical costs.

“As I write this he lays in the pediatric intensive care unit on life support with a feeding tube down his throat. I've always considered myself a pretty resilient person but I don't think I've cried so much in my life,” Robert said.

An MRI, lumbar puncture, and nasal virus swabs also came back clear of all viruses, until finally doctors diagnosed little Cole with botulism.

After days of uncertainty, Cole was diagnosed with Botulism. Photo: gofundme

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Botulism is a rare poisoning caused by toxins produced by Clostridium botulinum bacteria – these can be found in soil, sediments, raw foods (including seafoods) and honey.

It can be fatal and requires emergency medial care. In Australia there is only one case a year on average of infant botulism, but it is slightly more common in the US.

Doctors believe Cole was poisoned by a nearby building site. Photo: gofundme

"Cole is improving every day, however his lungs are still weak due to the botulism and the pseudomonas in the lungs and trachea, so he still needs help from the ventilator," Jackie tells us.

Although the cause of Cole’s botulism hasn’t been confirmed doctors believe it could have been caused by a building site near the family’s home.

"How did that happen? Dust storms, dirt - when they're doing construction. He ate something, and somehow the spore got inside of his GI tract," Dr. Rahul Chawla told Fox 10 News.

Cole is now improving but still has a long road to recovery. Photo: gofundme

Since his diagnosis things are looking positive for Cole, but he still has a long way to go.

"While we still have a long road ahead of us we remain very hopeful of a full recovery of our amazing little man," Jackie says.

“We want to thank everyone for supporting baby Cole. The prayers and love have been absolutely overwhelming. If we can spread awareness to save the life of another child it will be worth it," adds Robert.

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