Four-year-old Jade DeLucia is your typical active toddler. Then, on December 19, 2019, she began having low-grade fever, but seeing that she was her usual self, her mom Amanda Phillips thought nothing more of it.
“She was running around, having fun, eating normally, asking for snacks. It was just – it’s a little bug, she’ll get over it. There wasn’t any sign that would’ve told me that something was seriously wrong with her,” the Iowa mom thought, according to CNN.
On December 24, as they were getting ready to leave to join Amanda’s parents for Christmas eve, they found Jade unresponsive in bed and burning with fever. They rushed to the hospital, and just as they arrived, Jade began having a seizure. Assessing the situation, the doctors recommended to bring Jade to the University of Iowa hospital by helicopter (an ambulance would have taken long) to receive immediate medical care.
“Just from looking at her, I really honestly didn’t think I was going to see her,” said Amanda.
Complications from the flu had affected Jade’s brain, resulting to encephalopathy, her parents were told on Christmas Day.
“They said she had significant brain damage. They said our child might not ever wake up, and if she did, she might not ever be the same,” Amanda told CNN.
Over the next few days, as Jade remained unresponsive, her parents were told of the specific diagnosis: acute necrotizing encephalopathy (ANE), a rare disease that had caused the death of three out of four subjects in one study.
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Just as the family was losing hope, on January 1, Jade opened her eyes! Her recovery seemed underway as she was able to sit up and eat her favorite food in the next few days.
However, there were tell-tale signs that Jade was not completely the same: her eyes didn’t follow people and objects as they moved around. Her eyes, though, were fine — it was a part of her brain that was not.
“It affected the part of her brain that perceives sight, and we don’t know if she’s going to get her vision back,” Jade’s neurologist, Dr. Theresa Czech, said.
The family may also have to deal with learning disabilities and developmental problems, the neurologist added. “In about three to six months from now we’ll know. Whatever recovery she has at six months, that’s likely all she’s going to get.”
Amanda shares one very important message to parents: Get your child vaccinated.
“If I can stop one child from getting sick, that's what I want to do. It's terrible to see your child suffer like this,” she said.
In Idaho, what began as a simple fever and sore throat for a 13-year-old girl turned out to be more complex than the family thought — and fatal. Liliana Clark was brought to the urgent care facility on December 27, 2019. She was diagnosed with flu and was sent home with medications, People reports.
They were back at the hospital three days later after Lily’s case got worse, and this time coupled by other symptoms as well: greenish complexion, inability to breathe among them.
Tests showed Liliana had methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), an infection-causing bacterium, and it had spread throughout her body. Her brain showed bleeding and swelling too. She died four days before her 14th birthday.