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May 28, 2014 1:06 pm

Israeli Doctor’s Bio-Warfare Serum Saves Infant From Botulism Death

avatar by Dave Bender

Israeli medical first-responder at a mass triage national emergency drill held at Reading Power Station, Tel Aviv, 2011. Photo:

A 7-month-old child is in serious condition in an Israeli hospital after ingesting spores of a rare and deadly disease just days earlier.

“During our checkup, we concluded that he was suffering from botulism,” Dr. Eli Shapiro, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit chief at Rehovot’s Kaplan Hospital, told Army Radio on Wednesday.

“We’re talking about the most powerful poison in nature, one that causes fast and complete neurological and muscular paralysis,” Shapiro said. “It was decided to treat the baby with the antidote stored in our emergency stocks, even before we got back the lab test results.”

Kaplan, like all Israeli medical facilities, keeps ample supplies of biological and chemical warfare antidotes on hand in case of war or terrorist attacks, and regularly drills staffers in dealing with the symptoms of various chemical, neural and blister agents.

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The quick-thinking mother immediately brought the child to the hospital when she saw he was suffering from vomiting, difficulty in breathing, listlessness and an inability to nurse or eat, hospital officials said.

“He seemed apathetic, couldn’t take any food, and was glassy-eyed,” the mothers recounted to Israel’s Ma’ariv daily.

“Since he received the antidote, there’s been a slight improvement in his condition and visual responses, but he’s a got a long road ahead to fully recover,” she cautioned.

“The infant is still in a life-threatening situation, however, the muscular paralysis has been checked and there’s been a small degree of improvement in his muscular weakness,” Shapiro said.

Shapiro said it was, as yet, unclear as to the source of the poisoning, however, Health Ministry officials have been alerted and are investigating the circumstances.

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