7-year-old Flint boy loses legs to strep disease

A 7-year-old Flint boy is recovering in the hospital after losing both his legs after contracting streptococcal toxic shock syndrome.
Published: Mar. 6, 2023 at 10:59 PM EST
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FLINT, Mich. (WNEM) - A 7-year-old Flint boy is recovering in the hospital after losing both his legs after contracting streptococcal toxic shock syndrome.

His mother has some advice for parents.

“Listen to your kids. If you think they’re sick, a little sick, just pay attention. Don’t self-diagnose, take them to the hospital. Let the doctors tell you that they don’t have strep,” said Michele Stevenson.

Stevenson is warning parents that if their child is ill, they should take them to the hospital or to the doctor right away. Her fear is that they could have a deadly strep disease.

This comes after her son, Kaden, lost both of his legs to streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (STSS).

“He ended up having like, some pain in his leg. I’m thinking, ‘Okay body aches, so maybe he has the flu.’ Turned out he ended up having the flu plus strep A, but strep A got into his bloodstream, which caused him to get the toxic shock,” Stevenson said.

The active 7-year-old started feeling sick, complaining of leg pains around Christmas. By the Tuesday after, he was in the hospital suffering from organ failure.

Kaden was diagnosed with STSS and airlifted to a children’s hospital in Grand Rapids, undergoing weeks of treatments to save his legs, but it was too late.

“He ended up having to get above the knee amputation on his right leg and a below the knee amputation on his left leg,” Stevenson said.

CMU infectious disease specialist Dr. Nicholas Haddad said STSS is a rare invasive disease that goes into the bloodstream from streptococcal infections. A disease that, left untreated, can be deadly.

“Probably around 50 cases of toxic streptococcal shock syndrome per million people,” Haddad said.

He said open wounds are one way that streptococci can enter the blood.

“We need to take extra care of this one to ensure that it’s clean, that the patient is not going to go into, for example, in pools or exposing it to dirt,” Haddad said. “So, if it’s an abrasion, for example, that’s bigger than your standard wounds that occur in kids and things like that. If there’s a burn for example, if there’s a chronic ulcer that progresses to become looking bad, that’s what needs to be addressed right away,” Haddad said.

Initial symptoms of STSS are fever and chills, muscle aches, nausea, and vomiting followed by low blood pressure, rapid heart rate, and rapid breathing.

Seek medical attention immediately if you have signs of STSS.

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