Virginia newborn diagnosed with botulism

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) -- Preliminary tests came back Monday showing a baby tested positive for botulism.

At 6-weeks-old, Nickolas St. Clair needs more help than most. Machines help him breathe and eat, with some help from nurses. Mom can only stand back and look.

Jessica Hunter, Mother, said "Constantly. If there's an alarm or a beep, I'm watching it."

Jessica Hunter has been at his side for the last week. She took him to the doctor after he had trouble taking bottles, which led them to the pediatric ICU.

"Seeing him being put on the ventilator and everything, it's heartbreaking," she said.

The botulism weakened his muscles.

Dr. Jason Faulhaber, carilion infectious disease physician, said, "It's fairly rare."

Faulhaber said there are 150 cases of infant botulism per-year in the country. He said it happens when botulism spores found in soil and vegetation get ingested. If a baby doesn't have enough good bacteria to fight it off, that's when problems start. Thankfully, he said they caught Nickolas' case at a good time.

"With treatment that all of the sudden he's turning back to his old Nickalas self is very exciting," said Faulhaber.

"It definitely was an eye opener on things that can happen," said Hunter.

Nickolas has been getting better since treatment last Thursday, and there won't be any long-term effects. Until he leaves, though, Mom will be by his side, waiting to take him home from the hospital; hopefully, for good.

Hunter said, "And I'm excited he's getting better, but he's still got a long way to go."

The doctor said it's too early to tell how long he'll be in the hospital, but he said it won't be too long a stay. When asked how the infant could have ingested those spores, he said the child's father works in construction and could've brought some of them home. He said this is an isolated incident and there's no need to panic.