4 Year Old David’s Peanut Butter Salmonella Story
By Consumers Union on Wednesday, March 18th, 2009
Guest Bloggers: Jennifer and Justin Krieger
It was a New Year’s Day that our family will never forget. Our son, David, was finally old enough for ski school and we had arrived in Vail, CO for our first family ski trip. We arrived in the late afternoon, too late to hit the slopes. But eager to get started, we went to the children’s ski school to sign David up for lessons for the following day. David never got to take those lessons because he began throwing up before we had even left the ski school. That entire first night in the hotel, David was up every two hours with painful diarrhea. By 4am, January 2, he was in Vail Valley Medical Center’s emergency department, severely dehydrated, with a fever over 105°F and in a lot of pain. After being hydrated via IV for several hours, we left the ER with medication for nausea and headed back to the hotel. The diarrhea continued through the day and night and the vomiting became much worse. His fever also returned. We took David back to the hospital at about 7am on January 3, and he was admitted for severe dehydration, extremely painful abdominal cramping and fatigue. He was immediately hooked back up to the IV for hydration and put on oxygen.
For the next four days, David had frequent diarrhea, accompanied by horrible stomach cramps that made him cry out in pain (“my tummy hurts, my tummy hurts, my tummy hurts” – over and over and over again). He was also put on morphine for pain. The poking and prodding by the hospital help didn’t help (after a while, they had to switch his IV to the other arm). That was nothing, however, compared to the pain from his diarrhea, which was unlike anything we had ever seen. It went from black tar, to blood red, to bright green (bile?). At one point the nurse paged the doctor to show him David’s stool sample because it was unlike anything she had ever seen. It seemed like his insides were turning to mush. Again, as parents, we were horrified and had no idea what was wrong with our little boy and were worried that he might not recover. The looks on the hospital staffs’ faces spoke volumes.
At one point, the doctor came into David’s room and told us that something was definitely growing in his stool sample. You can imagine the horror. The next day it was confirmed that David had been infected with the Salmonella bacteria.
As a parent, the worst thing in life is to see your child fall ill. The thoughts and worries that consume you are unbearable. All you want is to see them laugh, play….eat….again. Eventually, David was stable enough for us to fly back home. He was discharged on January 5th. The diarrhea remained for the next two weeks. Although the most important thing, clearly, is that he recovered, it breaks my heart when he talks about how he wished he had been able to ski. At the hospital, David wouldn’t watch anything but the skiing shows saying “if I feel better, can I go skiing tomorrow?” We dread the worries and memories that will resurface the next time he says “my tummy hurts.”
After Justin returned to work he received a memo from HR requesting that nobody eat the peanut butter crackers in the vending machine for fear that they were contaminated. We then realized that those were the same type of crackers we had brought with us to Colorado for the kids and which they had been eating. The guilt we felt when we realized we were likely responsible for giving David that seemingly healthy snack and making him sick was unimaginable.
Jennifer & Justin Krieger