B.C. family urges parents to follow gut after toddler contracts E.coli infection

The cause of infection is unknown, but parents suspect it came from deer feces

Jaxon in the BC Children’s Hospital. Photo submitted by Jolene Secord.

A two-year-old Parksville boy is recovering in BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver after contracting E. coli O157:H7 that his father Aaron Hughes says, almost went undiagnosed.

“Be persistent, don’t just go home and try to treat it yourself like we did,” Aaron Hughes said. “We tried to treat it ourselves but we knew something was seriously wrong and doctors didn’t think something was seriously wrong.”

This strain of E.coli infection can lead to diarrhea and kidney failure.

Jaxon Browns’ parents, Hughes and Jolene Secord are hoping their son’s story will serve as guidance for other parents.

The exact cause of how Jaxon contracted E.coli is unknown, but his parents suspect it came from deer feces, as the animals can carry the O157:H7 strain. Hughes said they have a family of deer living on their property who live off an apple tree in the yard. He said once they’re back home he’s going to take a sample of the animal feces to get tested.

Related: High E.coli levels prompt warnings at several beaches around Metro Vancouver

Jaxon, who is also having problems with his pancreas and liver, is currently undergoing dialysis, transfusion and other treatments.

Hughes said Jaxon ate solid foods — a few fries and some banana — for the first time on Tuesday.

“He’s lost a lot of weight, that poor kid. He was a stocky little kid… now he’s turning into a toothpick because that’s the toxins working away at him,” Hughes said.

Hughes said it’s hard to say how Jaxon is feeling because he’s too young to communicate that.

Hughes and Secord urge parents not to get discouraged if their child’s symptoms go undiagnosed. Hughes said people need to remain persistent and always listen to their gut.

Hughes said Jaxon’s symptoms began during a tiki party they were having at their Parksville home last Tuesday. Hughes noticed his son was looking “dopey” and was acting “off.”

“I thought he had sun stroke.”

Later in the evening, Hughes said Jaxon was becoming increasingly lethargic and contracted a fever. Hughes’ wife gave Jaxon Tylenol and put him to bed around 7 p.m.

“The next morning at about 7:30 a.m. I was in bed with the three-month-old and I could hear (Jaxon) on the monitor moaning,” Hughes said. “I said to my wife ‘can you go check on him it doesn’t sound like he’s feeling well.’”

Hughes said Jaxon had gotten diarrhea and decided to try and give him some oatmeal.

“He had maybe a tablespoon at most and wouldn’t eat anymore,” Hughes said. “His appetite was similar throughout the day, he wouldn’t even eat popsicles, nothing he would normally like.”

During a family walk at Rathtrevor Beach, Jaxon seemed to be doing okay but once they arrived back home his diarrhea began again, this time with traces of blood in it.

“I thought this is serious, let’s get him to the clinic,” Hughes said.

At the clinic, the doctor told Jaxon’s parents he had probably contracted a virus and took a stool sample.

“The doctor said just hydrate him, give him some Tylenol and if it persists take him to emergency or come back tomorrow,” Hughes said.

The toddler began vomiting up what Hughes said looked like coffee grounds.

“At this point we don’t know what he has but the toxins are going to work,” Hughes said.

That night Jaxon continued to vomit and blood was still showing up in his stool.

“That was an alarm when he started vomiting, he was losing a lot of fluids,” Hughes said.

“I phoned the ambulance right away, I didn’t wait.”

Once Jaxon was taken to the hospital, a pediatrician told Hughes and Secord that he had a bleeding anal fissure.

“We looked and I didn’t see anything, my wife didn’t see anything but figured (the doctor) has the trained eye and knows what he’s seeing,” Hughes said.

The doctor gave the parents some medication for Jaxon’s bum and sent them home.

The next day, Hughes was giving Jaxon a bath when he noticed mucus and blood dripping down his legs.

Hughes left Jaxon with his 18-year-old daughter and went to Nanaimo to pick up some supplies. While he was out of town, Hughes’ daughter called him and said Jaxon was not doing well. He told her to call an ambulance right away and that he would meet them at the hospital.

“They realized this time that it was serious,” Hughes said.

Jaxon was placed on an IV overnight.

“The next day the doctor came in and he had a look on his face like oh no, there’s something serious going on here, just the way he looked at me,” Hughes said. “I’m thinking the worst, I’m thinking he’s got cancer or something.”

The doctor said Jaxon had E. coli O157:H7 and that his kidneys weren’t working. Jaxon was airlifted to Children’s Hospital.

Both parents, their three-month-old baby and Hughes’ 18-year-old daughter are with Jaxon at Children’s Hospital.

A GoFundMe page was set up by a family member to help Jaxon and his family. You can find it here.

Send story tips to: karly.blats@pqbnews.com

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