Family Alleges Pest Fumigation Left Boy Severely Injured

The 10-year-old boy has been left impaired after fumigation, family said.

ByABC News
September 4, 2015, 2:42 PM

— -- The family of a 10-year-old boy said he had to be rushed to the hospital where he has remained for weeks after being exposed to fumigation chemicals in their house.

The family of Peyton McCaughey said that after their home in Palm City, Florida, was fumigated in August, multiple family members became ill but Peyton had the most severe reaction.

"He was having some uncontrollable muscle movements, couldn't stand up, couldn't speak, so they took him to a local walk-in and the doctor quickly recognized it was probably poisoning from a treatment," Peyton's uncle, Ed Gribben told local ABC affiliate WPBF.

Gribben told ABC News that the boy's symptoms have been so severe he's remained in a Miami hospital for weeks and even had to spend his 10th birthday in a hospital bed on Thursday.

The family said they are now working with a Florida law firm to investigate the incident and determine if they will file a lawsuit against the company that performed the fumigation, a sub-contractor of Terminix.

"There's lots of things to cover and we're not at the 50 yard line," said Greg Martini, director of public relations at the Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath law firm, which is working with the family. "Investigating all aspects from what parties were involved to what chemicals were involved."

After the McCaughey family returned home after their house was fumigated by Terminix's sub-contractor on Aug. 16, they started to feel ill, the family told WPBF, adding that Peyton's symptoms continued to worsen until they took him to a hospital.

"Life as he's known it has been stolen from him. It's not going to be the same," Gribben said, who described his nephew as an athletic and outgoing boy who loves sports.

He declined to go into detail with ABC News about Peyton's current condition.

A spokesman for Terminix told ABC News today that the company is reviewing the incident.

The gas that is normally used for fumigation is sulfuryl fluoride, the company spokesman said.

"We were saddened to learn of this and our hearts are with the family. We are carefully reviewing the matter," the spokesman said.

Dr. Shan Yin, the medical director of the Cincinnati Drug and Poison Control, said cases of pesticide poisoning due to fumigation is incredibly rare. Exposure to sulfuryl fluoride, an odorless gas, can lead to symptoms including dizziness, headache or vomiting in mild cases, Yin noted.

In severe cases it "can cause seizures and can cause neurologic symptoms," Yin told ABC News.

If a person starts to have symptoms, Yin said they should immediately get out of the house and seek medical treatment.

"Because there's no antidote and no specific treatment, you need to get out of the environment," Yin said of how doctors handle pesticide exposures.

Poison control centers in the U.S. reported 91,940 calls in 2010 related to pesticide exposures in general, according to the University of Nebraska Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.