Tampa toddler becomes sick after eating laundry detergent pod

TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -- It's a day Klinda Mann will never forget, one she hopes never happens again. When her two-year-old son, Jacquez, popped a laundry detergent pod in his mouth, he and his mother got the shock of a lifetime. "It looks like candy, kids think it's candy," the toddler's mom told News Channel 8 Thursday afternoon. "He began throwing up immediately!"

The boy's mom explained to 8 On Your Side, what's so scary is how fast it all happened. She turned her back for a mere second while doing laundry. When she turned around, her son was violently throwing up. The boy bit right into one of the pod's packets she was using, made by Gain Detergent, and ingested its ingredients. She knew she had to act fast, so called the Poison Control Center at Tampa General Hospital at (800) 222-1222.

"He was throwing up, wouldn't eat or drink," explained Klinda Mann. "It was bad." Crisis managers at the Center talk to panicked parents each day about children poisoned by detergent, including pods. A heartbreaking case happened in Central Florida back in 2013. A seven-month-old baby from Osceola County died from ingesting a detergent pod, sources tell WFLA.

Consumer Reports just released a recommendation to parents with children under the age of six, warning them not to purchase pods. This comes after recent, startling numbers. According to a recent study, 17,000 cases have happened in the last two years where children are eating the detergent packets.

It's no secret that children are drawn to the tiny, colorful pods, since they look so much like candy. The resemblance is uncanny, and that's the problem, maintains Dr. Alfred Aleguas. The longtime director heads up the busy Poison Control Center in Hillsborough County, and they take calls from all over Tampa Bay, including Jacquez's quick-thinking mom. She called the Center hotline when Jacquez got sick. That call saved her son's life. "I tried so hard to stay calm, so my baby would remain calm. It was nerve wracking," said Klinda. "They helped saved him, talked me through it on the phone." Jacquez recovered quickly in 24-hours and is doing well.

Dr. Algueas admits people like using the pods packs, including himself. "I like how easy it is to use them, but if I had children under five, you have to keep an eye on them, like this mother did." In fact, while News Channel 8 was covering this story at the Poison Control Center, a call came in while we were there dealing with the very topic of the story - a child swallowing laundry detergent. "This happens fast, children move fast. The detergent can get in their lungs and kill them," Dr. Aleguas said. "You've always got to keep your eyes on them."

If your child ingests the contents of a pods packet, Dr Aleguas said, "Call us! Call us right away, anytime day or night. We want to help." The number is (800) 222-1222.

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