Peanut butter sickens local boyFeb 18, 2007 | www.southbendtribune.com
Four-year-old Chase Middleton was napping Saturday afternoon. He felt better, had been up and running all day, but was yet to recover from a bad case of salmonella poisoning.
Before the symptoms first appeared on Monday (fever, stomach cramps, diarrhea), Chase and his siblings had been eating peanut butter out of a Peter Pan jar their mother purchased a week earlier. They've always loved peanut butter.
"They ate it on an everyday basis," Chase's mother, Mindy Middleton, said on Saturday.
On Wednesday, federal health officials linked an outbreak of salmonella poisoning dating back to August 2006 to peanut butter made by a food producer at a facility in Sylvester, Ga. Peter Pan and Great Value jars with a lid number beginning with "2111" are being recalled.
So far, nearly 300 people in 39 states have been infected in what is believed to be the first salmonellosis outbreak associated with peanut butter in U.S. history, said officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Middleton recalled when Chase first began showing symptoms of the illness.
"He was complaining of his stomach hurting," she said. "He had really bad diarrhea ... and his stomach was cramping up really bad."
At first, Middleton thought it was a case of the stomach flu. She stayed home from work for two days to nurse her son. Then at midweek, her boss called her on the phone.
"She asked me if I had bought peanut butter lately," Middleton recalled.
Right away, Middleton took Chase to Lakeland Hospital in Niles.
"As soon as the doctor came in, he checked (Chase) and immediately told me that it was salmonella," Middleton said.
Now, Chase is doing better. After leaving the hospital, Middleton followed the doctor's instructions. She gave him lots of fluids and plenty of rest. The illness, the doctor said, would go away in a few days, although the diarrhea could last for as long as two weeks.
Middleton said this is the worst her son's health has ever been.
"He's normally really energetic," she said.
While Chase even complained of hip, neck and head pain symptoms commonly associated with more severe cases of salmonellosis his four siblings, whose ages range from 6 to 12, seemed fine. They, too, complained of stomach pain, but nothing like Chase, Middleton said.
"Chase is just a little bitty thing," Middleton said.
The elderly and the very young are more vulnerable to salmonellosis, which is deadly in about 1 percent of cases, according to the CDC. Most cases of salmonella poisoning are caused by undercooked eggs and chicken.
Middleton said she is thinking about suing the company that manufactures the peanut butter, ConAgra Foods Inc. Although she doesn't believe there'll be any hospital bills, she did miss two full days of work.
As of Friday, three families from Kansas, New York and Texas had filed lawsuits against ConAgra.
As to Middleton's children, "now they don't want peanut butter at all," she said.