Teenager's sore throat turns out to be Lemierre's Syndrome

10:52 AM, Feb 16, 2010   |    comments
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NBC -- Every child gets sick from time to time.

But for one Colorado family, what seemed like a simple sore throat turned into the battle of a lifetime.

He had something called Lemierre's Syndrome.

"Everything seemed to be going wrong. I had headaches and vomiting and sore throat and nausea and just everything went wrong," remembers Michael Safranka.

And for Safranka and his family, things seemed to be going wrong quickly.

What his mom, Dawn, thought was a regular case of strep throat turned into something much more dangerous. After seeing several doctors, Mike ended up at The Children's Hospital in Denver. By then he was so sick the illness started taking a toll on his organs.

"He couldn't even open his eyes, lift his head. The only thing he was saying was his headache was just killing him, terrible headache. That's all he could do. He was in the fetal postion for like 3 days even once we got to Children's, he was just so miserable," says Dawn Safranka.

Dr. Mary Glode' and others at the Children's Hospital were able to diagnose his condition as Lemierre's Syndrome. Something most doctors haven't seen since the introduction of antibiotics in the 1940's.

What makes this different from a normal throat infection is how quickly it can spread.

"And then that infection proceeds and it drains to the lymph nodes, next to the tonsil, and can get into the blood vessel next to the tonsil and then proceed to set up a clot in that blood vessel that's infected," says Dr. Glode'.

That clot starts to break up in the body, and the infection spreads as the body starts to shut down.

Fortunately, for Mike and his family, once lab tests gave doctors the diagnosis, the treatment worked.

After a few days on heavy antibiotics his mom says he was starting to act like himself again.

"He was hungry! He wanted to eat. Strawberry milk, ice cream, yeah, he wanted to eat so it was a good sign."

And now he's ready to get back to his old life.

"I want to get back to school and be with my friends."

The Children's Hospital in Denver sees around 5 to 10 cases of Lemierre's Syndrome a year.



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