LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – A rare brain infection spiked in southern Nevada which triggered the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate.
As many as 18 children were diagnosed with the brain infection in 2022 and most have recovered.
For 8-year-old Carter Hayes’ parents, it was the scariest moment when their son lost all the feeling on the left side of his body.
“When he refused chicken nuggets and YouTube I knew something was wrong,” said Charissa Hayes, Carter’s mother.
“I was in pain most of the time, and I couldn’t move so it was hard for me to get up and do things,” Carter shared.
He was lucky enough to get into Pediatric Neurosurgeon Taryn Bragg in time. Carter was treated with antibiotics and had to get four separate surgeries.
“The bacteria, the most common one that we isolated was strep. It’s known for producing large amounts of material,” Dr. Bragg explained. “Even though I would drain after initial surgery it would recur. Then we would have to go back in and drain those additional pockets of infection.”
He is expected to make a full recovery but is restricted to some activities until his skull fully heals.
While a cause can’t yet be determined Dr. Bragg wants people to know that the infection is not contagious. It can start in the sinuses and slowly erode the bone where it will eventually affect the brain.
According to the CDC, parents should seek medical care immediately if children have a severe headache, changes in personality or behavior, confusion or irritability, seizures, changes in speech such as slurring, weakness on one side of the body, changes in vision like blurring or double vision, or a stiff neck or back.
Dr. Bragg and the Southern Nevada Health District brought this infection to the attention of the CDC and they are still looking into reasons for the infection.