Family Vacation Becomes A Nightmare After Family Is Sickened By Possible Pesticide Exposure


A family vacationing in the U.S. Virgin Islands fell ill, possibly as the result of pesticides used at their resort, and three of them remain hospitalized weeks later. Obviously, this is horrifying and makes you think about the real dangers that you might not consider while vacationing with your kids. I usually worry about drowning, shark attacks, car accidents or severe food poisoning. It would not occur to me to think about what pesticides a hotel might be using that could be harmful to people.

From CNN, the details of this frightening story. Steve Esmond, his teen sons and their mother became sick more than two weeks ago at a resort on St. John. The boys are both still in comas and remain in critical condition while Esmond is unable to move or speak and is being treated at a hospital separate from the boys. The mother, Theresa Divine, was treated and released but is still receiving occupational therapy. The EPA is now involved and this sounds so scary:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Friday that the presence of a pesticide at the rented villa in St. John may have caused the illnesses, which were reported to the EPA on March 20.

Paramedics were called to the villa, which the family began had been renting since March 14.

Esmond was found unconscious; the boys and their mother were having seizures, Maron said. The lawyer did not say who called the paramedics.

Elias Rodriguez, an EPA spokesman, said the agency’s preliminary test results “do show that there was a presence of methyl bromide in the unit where the family was staying.”

Methyl bromide can do serious damage to the nervous and respiratory systems, according to the EPA, and judging by the fact that three people in this family were having seizures, I’d say it’s a distinct possibility this pesticide caused it. The article goes on to state that methyl bromide is not to be used indoors and is only appropriate in “certain agricultural settings”. I’m guessing that means “not anywhere near where humans live and breathe.”

For the resort’s part, they are shifting the blame to the pest control company they use, Terminex. There was a fumigation done a few days before the family became sick and the unit below the family’s was treated with pesticides. The EPA continues their investigation to determine whether this was the cause of their illnesses.They will then determine if the pesticide use violated any laws.

As a parent, there is a lot to consider when it comes to the safety of our children. Perhaps we take for granted that places like hotels or restaurants would use extreme caution in what is used to clean or rid the grounds of pests. I have trouble imagining booking a vacation and making a point of asking if pesticides are used where we will be staying but knowing these kids are now in a several weeks’ long coma, possibly as a result of pesticides? It sure makes me want to. We can never foresee all danger and of course, we can’t be hermits and never leave our homes, but this is so scary. These parents did nothing wrong bringing their kids on vacation and now, they are probably racked with guilt wondering if they could have somehow prevented this from happening. Maybe this story being in the press will at least bring awareness to businesses to be cautious about the pesticides they use when there is a possibility of people being exposed. I hope this family makes a full recovery. What a total nightmare.

(Image: GettyImages)

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