Little girl fighting for her life after complications from flu

Faculty News
Author: Marianne Martinez
Published: 5:32 PM CDT March 26, 2019
Updated: 6:13 PM CDT March 26, 2019

ST. LOUIS — Layla Lynn Thomas has always been a healthy little girl. Then, like many little kids, she got sick.“It was a low-grade fever that kind of went up and down,” said Jessica Kile, Layla’s aunt. “It was nothing that we haven’t seen before.”

Kile said Layla’s mom Victoria Aubuschon took her to the pediatrician last Monday. She was sent home. Hours later, Layla’s temperature spiked to 107 degrees. Her mom called an ambulance. She went to a hospital in Belleville and then transferred to St. Louis Children’s Hospital, where she has been for the last nine days.

“Her little body is just trying to fight everything right now,” Kile said.

Doctors diagnosed Layla, who will turn 3 next week, with necrotizing encephalitis. Her brain is inflamed. It is a very rare condition and can be a complication from the flu, which Layla tested positive for in the hospital.

“I don’t think we know exactly how that happens, whether it’s a direct result of the virus or an immune response to the virus that causes encephalitis after influenza. we know it can occur, but rarely,” said Dr. Rachel Orscheln, an infectious disease physician at St. Louis Children’s.

Dr. Orscheln is not treating Layla but said complications from the flu tend to impact people with immature or weak immune systems. The flu shot can be a defense.

“The flu shot isn’t perfect, but it reduces the risk you will have complications, be hospitalized or die from influenza,” Dr. Orscheln said.

Layla did get her flu shot, so her family is struggling to understand how she got so sick so quickly.

“We want to make parents aware this is a possible complication,” Kile said.

Layla’s family said their little girl is tough, despite the odds.

“When they said, she has a 50-50 chance, we all broke down,” Kile said. “I can’t even explain how hard it’s been. we just want our Layla back.”

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