TEXARKANA, Ark. (AP) - A 13-year-old Arkansas boy is being treated for what is believed to be a rare case of Eastern equine encephalitis in humans, according to his parents.
Coleman Pearson, of Ben Lomond, is being treated at Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock after becoming ill in September and being near death as recently as Oct. 10, his parents said.
When Coleman, an 8th-grader at Ashdown Junior High School, first became sick in late September, his mother and father, Joanna and Craig Pearson, took him to the doctor and he was prescribed antibiotics, the Texarkana Gazette reported (http://bit.ly/1bIGmgB).
After improving somewhat and returning to school, he became ill again on Oct. 6 and suffered what his mother believes was a seizure.
He was taken to a local hospital, then flown to the Little Rock hospital the following day.
"The pressure in his brain went down. Doctors said they thought his brain had ruptured, and they thought he was brain dead. They didn't think there was blood flow in the brain, but there is," Joanna said.
His condition has not been confirmed as Eastern equine encephalitis by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but if it is, it would be the first human case of the disease in Arkansas in the more than 50 years the state has kept records.
To confirm the case as Eastern equine encephalitis, the patient's doctor first receives a positive result on a screening test, then the Arkansas Department of Health requests samples and sends those to the CDC, said Dr. Gary Wheeler, chief of the ADH Infectious Disease branch.
The disease is an inflammation of the brain that is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito, according to the CDC website. Most cases are found in the Atlantic and Gulf Coast states.
There is no specific treatment. Instead, care is based on symptoms that may include headache, high fever, chills, and vomiting. The illness may then progress into disorientation, seizures, or coma.
Information from: Texarkana Gazette, http://www.texarkanagazette.com
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