A Missouri toddler is battling a rare brain disease and is in critical condition after contracting the flu.
Earlier this month 2-year-old Layla Thomas began exhibiting flu-like symptoms but, out of nowhere, Layla’s condition took a turn for the worse and on March 18 she was rushed to the hospital with a 107-degree fever, according to a GoFundMe page set up to cover her medical expenses.
Upon her arrival at the hospital, the small child tested positive for Influenza A and was diagnosed with necrotizing encephalopathy — a rare disease characterized by brain damage that usually follows an acute febrile disease, mostly viral infections.
According to the GoFundMe, little Layla’s condition is “extremely severe” and doctors haven’t seen a case like hers in over 10 years.
Until recently the rare brain disease was thought to only affect children of Asian descent as most of the reported cases were found in Taiwan and Japan, according to an article in the Journal of Clinical Imaging Science. Cases have since occurred in other parts of the world, however, the disease remains very uncommon.
Since being admitted, Layla has had blood transfusions and has been in an induced coma.
“The doctors have given her a 50/50 chance of survival but only time will tell what her outcome will be,” the GoFundMe says.
However, her family is hopeful Layla will beat the odds as she’s “showing signs of improvement every day.”
Layla’s aunt Jessica Kile opened up about the drastic series of events to KMOV St. Louis saying, “She had just a runny nose, maybe a little cough but nothing out of the ordinary that we haven’t seen before.”
“They had her hooked up to everything imaginable,” Kile told the outlet. “She’s completely unresponsive and is making small eye movements.”
Layla’s god grandmother also spoke out about the toddler’s condition on Facebook.
“Please help my grand goddaughter in any way you can. Thank you to all of you that are praying, sending good vibes and positive thoughts for this sweet baby,” Nancy Lynn wrote on Facebook alongside a series of photos of the little girl.
According to the GoFundMe page, Layla will be in the hospital for at least a few months. “Her parents, grandparents, family and friends have been by her side 24/7.”
Dr. Rachel Orschlen, who specializes in infectious diseases told KMOV that “we are still seeing a high number of flu cases in the St. Louis area.”
Dr. Orschlen is urging parents to be aware of early-warning signs like sleepiness, seizures and los of appetite as they could all lead to Layla’s condition.
“Even with appropriate anti-viral treatments some of these severe complications can result in permanent disability or even death,” Dr. Orschlen told KMOV.