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Glenwood case leads to national recall of alcohol wipes

John Stroud
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox/Post IndependentPeyton Armstrong, 10, relaxes at home with his mom, Jessica Armstrong, in Glenwood Springs. Peyton contracted a severe bacterial infection at Children's Hospital in Denver after hospital workers prepared his skin with what turned out to be infected alcohol wipes.
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GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A rare bacterial infection contracted at a Denver-area hospital by a Glenwood Springs boy who is battling leukemia prompted a national recall of tainted alcohol wipes.

The surgical prep pads, swabs and wipes manufactured by the Triad Group of Hartland, Wis., are suspected of being contaminated with a potentially deadly bacteria. The product was voluntarily recalled by the company on Jan. 5 following a federal Food and Drug Administration investigation.

Two months later, the boy’s mother, Jessica Armstrong, remains on a mission to make sure what happened to her son does not happen to others.

The Triad products were widely used in medical facilities around the country, and were also available for retail sale to consumers under a variety of product names at Safeway, City Market and Walgreen’s stores.

“Anyone who has or thinks they may have these prep pads or wipes in their home needs to check to confirm the manufacturer, and discard them in the trash immediately,” Armstrong said.

Her family’s ordeal received national media attention with an MSNBC report earlier this week. That report referred to several infection cases around the country blamed on the Triad wipes, including one involving the death of 2-year-old boy in Texas in early December of last year.

Jessica and husband Noel Armstrong’s story began when their 10-year-old son, Peyton, was air-lifted to Children’s Hospital in Aurora on Oct. 18, 2010, after he had been extremely sick for several weeks.

At Children’s, he was diagnosed with a type of leukemia that required quick action. Peyton had surgery to insert an internal catheter so he could immediately begin chemotherapy treatment.

“Within 12 hours of the surgery, in the middle of the night, he started having this excruciating pain,” his mother said. “We really weren’t sure what to expect, and we knew it was a painful surgery. But this was definitely not right.”

Soon, the pain was accompanied by a fever, indicating that Peyton had contracted an infection. Infectious disease experts were called in, and the cause of the infection was narrowed down to the Bacillus cereus bacteria.

“We were told that it’s something not usually seen in hospitals,” Armstrong said. “They said it was very serious, and they were going to do everything they could to help him.”

Peyton was put on strong antibiotics to stabilize his condition, and had to undergo another emergency surgery, followed by a stay in the intensive care unit, she explained.

Due to concerns about Peyton’s case and a series of similar infections involving other young patients, Children’s Hospital officials contacted the FDA.

In late November, Children’s confirmed that the source of the bacteria was the surgical prep pads, which the hospital had contracted with Triad to supply.

According to the MSNBC report and other published reports, the FDA had previous concerns about contamination and sterilization at Triad dating back to 2009.

With the new information, Triad voluntarily issued the product recall in early January.

“Peyton’s case was the catalyst for breaking this investigation, because his surgical site was infected,” Jessica Armstrong said. “It was very telling, because it was different than a bloodstream infection. I really want to praise Children’s for being so diligent and doing the extensive research to find out the cause.”

But she’s still worried that, even after hundreds of thousands of letters went out to medical facilities and retailers, that the tainted wipes may still be lingering in home medicine cabinets or medical kits.

Valley View Hospital spokesperson Becky Young said the Glenwood Springs-based hospital does not use Triad products, either now or in the past, and was not affected by the recall.

“It’s sad that it’s taken some time to get this information out. That’s what’s scary to me,” Armstrong said. “A lot of people who have diabetes buy these kinds of wipes to prep before injections.”

Armstrong said her son is “faring OK” now, despite the ongoing intensive chemotherapy treatments that will last three years. The infection only added to his anxiety and negatively impacted his physical well-being during the early stages of his diagnosis, and he’s still recovering from the effects of that as well, she said.

jstroud@postindependent.com


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