Surgery performed on Wash. woman who ate BBQ brush bristle

PUYALLUP, Wash. -- Cleaning your barbeque grill should not be hazardous to your health, but a Puyallup woman says a broken wire from a grill brush nearly killed her.

There are good wire barbeque grill brushes and cheap ones, and experts warn that the cheap brushes can break during cleaning, leaving sharp pieces of wire stuck to the grill.

Tammy Johnson says a tiny broken wire is threatening her life.

Johnson's surgeon believes she ate more than a pierce of barbeque chicken earlier this month. After barbequing, she felt pain in her abdomen for about 4 days before going to the hospital.

"(The doctor) asked if we used our grill and I said yes, and he asked if we used a wire brush, always," Johnson said.

Johnson said she needed emergency surgery to remove a tiny wire that had punctured her bowel. The 57-year-old has spent the last 10 days in the hospital.

A portion of Johnson's bowel was removed, but the puncture led to her getting an infection called clostridium difficile toxin, which requires her to be in almost total isolation.

"Nobody should have to worry that when you clean your grill like you are supposed to, you're putting your whole family at risk," she said.

Johnson's husband Don said he was shocked that the wire brush may have put his wife in the hospital.

"I just never thought to look for these things," he said.

In past years the Centers for Disease Control has issued warnings about wire brushes during the summer months. It routinely gets cases like Johnson's, but has yet to single out any manufacturer.

The Johnson's brush didn't have a brand name, but said it was made in China.

"The instructions with your grill says clean it with a wire brush, turn your heat up high burn it off and brush it and we do, but we don't anymore," Johnson said.

There's no evidence that any barbeque grilling brushes have been recalled. Barbeque experts recommend using a tough nylon scouring pad, just a paper towel and hot water, or even a putty knife to clean grills.