Teen survives rare amoeba infection that kills most people
Aug 24 2016
A teen hospitalized in Florida has beaten the odds against a brain-eating amoeba.
It was "divine intervention and gut instinct", ER Dr. Dennis Hernandez said, that led to the timely diagnosis of Naegleria fowleri, which kills 97 percent of its victims. He was complaining of severe headaches and sensitivity to light, so his parents took him to Florida Hospital for Children.
Doctors lowered the teen's body temperature, induced a coma and gave him a drug that isn't readily available at most hospitals.
"We woke him up, and we chose to take the breathing tube out".
Recounting his treatment at a news conference on Tuesday morning, Sebastian's doctor was in tears.
'Since then he has done tremendously well. We are very optimistic, he's walking, he's speaking. "I saw him this morning and he's ready to go home", although he added that the teen wasn't quite ready and will still need rehabilitation. "He's ready to go home", Liriano said. Eventually, the samples came back negative. So his son got in his auto and drove the drug to Florida Hospital.
A wave of emotion took over Dr. Liriano at the news conference because he explained he's treated cases of Naegleria fowleri before, and they've all been fatal.
"We are so thankful that God has given us this miracle through this medical team.to have our son back and having him full of life", said Brunilda Gonzalez's DeLeon's mother. "He is such an energetic, adventurous, wonderful teen and we are so thankful for the gift of life".
Just last week, 11-year-old Hannah Collins from SC passed away after picking up the deadly infection while swimming in a river, and three years ago, in Southwest Florida, 12-year-old Zachary Reyna passed away from the brain-eating amoeba.
Calls were placed to Profounda Inc., the Orlando-based drug company that makes an anti-parasitic called miltefosine (sold as Impavido), that was FDA approved in March for another use. Miltefosine was administered to three of the four amoeba survivors, Profounda CEO Todd Maclaughlan told reporters.
There have been 138 cases in the United States between 1962 and 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For 10 days DeLeon has been recovering and getting stronger. The amoeba aren't always necessarily very active, so you literally have to look and watch. Later, they learned doctors there were uniquely knowledgeable about this amoeba - they'd attended special seminars on the topic earlier this year.
On Sept. 9, Florida Hospital for Children is sponsoring the second annual Amoeba Summit, which is presented by the Jordan Smelski Foundation for Amoeba Awareness.