Missouri toddler fights for her life after flu symptoms lead to rare brain infection

ST. LOUIS – What one Missouri family thought was the flu took a near deadly turn for a 2-year-old girl, according to KMOV. Now, she’s clinging to life at St. Louis Children’s Hospital with a 50-50 chance of survival.

Layla Thomas is going on nearly 10 days in the pediatric intensive care unit, and the illness started with what appeared to be simple flu symptoms.

“She had just a runny nose, maybe a little cough but nothing out of the ordinary that we hadn’t seen before,” said Layla’s aunt, Jessica Kile.

Layla’s mother was too emotional to speak on camera, but Kile said, on March 18, Layla’s symptoms escalated. She was rushed to the hospital with a 107-degree fever.

“They had her hooked up to everything imaginable,” she said. “She’s completely unresponsive and is making small eye movements.”

Doctors diagnosed Layla with necrotic encephalitis, a rare complication of the flu now attacking her brain.

“We are still seeing a high number of flu cases in the St. Louis area,” said Dr. Rachel Orscheln, who specializes in infectious diseases.

Orscheln said early-warning signs like sleepiness, seizures and loss of appetite could mean something more serious.

“Even with appropriate anti-viral treatments, some of these severe complications can result in permanent disability or even death,” she said.

For now, all the family can do is wait, hopeful their bubbly 2-year-old is the exception.

“She’s really loving, just a cuddle bug and we’re just praying that we get that back,” Kile said.

The family has set up a GoFundMe to help with medical expenses.

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